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How Thanksgiving Came to Be!

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The American Civil War lasted for over four years, from April 12, 1861 to May 26, 1865. The Union Army lost 360,222 soldiers and the Confederate Army lost 258,000 troops. There were many more who were wounded in addition to the many civilians who were killed. 

President Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the bloody American Civil War in 1863, established the annual celebration of Thanksgiving.  Lincoln as President knew how important it is to stop and thank God in the midst of the greatest of difficulties our country ever faced. 

Lincoln wrote: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

“We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  

“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self‑sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that the gifts of God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.  

“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.”

In the midst of the political Civil War that is going on in our country today, we need to stop and consider what our country went through 160 years ago. Hopefully these words of Abraham Lincoln will have an impact on our minds and our hearts. This Thanksgiving week each of us needs to reflect not only how we act toward God, but how we act toward one another in this great country. 

Thanks to Tim Mossholder for the photo.

How do these words of Abraham Lincoln strike YOU in light of everything going on in our country? Is it possible to love God without loving YOUR neighbor? Jesus never thought so. 


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