Monday, November 23, 2015

We need Thanksgiving this year

Thanksgiving Day was born in hope. 
Abraham Lincoln declared the first Thanksgiving Day in 1863, in the midst of division and national anemia. Anemia brought on by loss of blood as American killed American during the Civil War, also known as the War Between the States.
Give thanks? By national edict? Signed into law by a President largely unpopular by people in the North and  the South?
That was a time when hope needed to supercede hopelessness.
In the next month many of us will do things to benefit others. To help feed the hunger, to provide toys for needy children, to just sing praises to the Christ of Christmas.
Why?
Because we hope the future will be better, just like the Americans hoped the country of the 1870s and beyond would be better than the United States of the 1860s.
This week I attended a holiday memorial service for anyone who has lost loved ones in the past year or two. Susie French told those present that thanksgiving can lead to a positive mindset. 
That is perhaps the greatest reason to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, because everyone needs hope. 
We remember I Corinthians 13 because it is "the love chapter" of the New Testament but along with love are listed faith and hope. 
That is the connection between hope and thanksgiving. When we realize how much we have, we gain hope that tomorrow's cares will be met as well. 
"In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union," Lincoln wrote in his proclamation. 
Our nation in 2015 is also divided. Not a division of state boundaries but a division of philosophy and opinion. Guns may not have been drawn yet but crime is abundant as straight people oppose gays, as blacks oppose whites as the poor mistrust the rich and the rich fail to see themselves in that light. 
Today, as much as in 1863, we need Thanksgiving.