Tomorrow we gather to give thanks. It’s worth remembering that Thanksgiving became a national holiday because of a proclamation from President Lincoln in 1863 as our nation was divided and at war. In Lincoln’s proclamation, he wrote: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens …to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Thanksgiving and communion are twins because to give thanks is to open up. It’s why the section of Holy Communion when we receive the bread and wine are named “The Great Thanksgiving.” As we remember God’s grace, our hearts expand because we remember that God is finally in charge.
Yes, these are hard days for our country. Yes, there are huge divisions. Unspeakable words have been spoken which tear at the very fabric of the Union. And yes, many have doubts about our elected leaders and our future as the United Sates being in any way united.
But one fact remains. This is the time in which we live, and this is the day we have to give thanks all the Lord has done, is doing, and will do for us. Like Lincoln, we give thanks for God; we turn away from our divisiveness and our anger and our recriminations; and we ask God to break once again into this world and make us new.
The way forward in this time is to go deeper through our faith. When we cannot talk our way through a deep divide, we must pray our way through. If we cannot find connection with our brothers and sisters on the surface, we have to dig to get to the water table where we find a deeper union—a union that doesn’t gloss over our differences or merely wait until the power shifts again in a way that works for us.
I realized I do not want to spend the next four years just being angry or outraged. I do not what to be upset with the Federal Government every day. I want to live my life and be an agent for change—both at the same time. The place to start is by giving thanks for this “one wild and precious life” God has given me to live. From that place, I can be mindful of and responsive to what’s going on in our nation and the world, but not reactive and not allow it to overtake my connection with the Prince of Peace.
On Thanksgiving, my family always makes Christmas wish lists. I don’t need any more sweaters, and I don’t need any more books (although I will ask for some anyway). I need the peace of the Lord, and I intend to ask for it and live for it.