November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience

The Elders at Immanuel were very kind to give me the evening off from preaching tonight, and we were blessed to have Rev. Andrew Smith in the pulpit. In his sermon he referenced the 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln and how he called not just for the giving of thanks but for a day of repentance. Chaplain Smith had a nice line about how a day of penitence is much more significant than just "turkey day." I also appreciated his reminder that the thankful leper in Luke 17 didn't just bow, or even genuflect - he prostrated himself before the Lord in his thanksgiving.

Anyway, I was curious to read the whole Lincoln proclamation, and share it with you as well:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. 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. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, 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, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and 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, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

1 comment:

Father Hollywood said...

It's a very American sentiment to cite Abraham Lincoln in a sermon. I went to Lincoln Elementary School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio - where I was taught the Battle Hymn of the Republic was about Abraham Lincoln. Some churches even sing the Battle Hymn in worship services.

Ironically, Lincoln wasn't even a believing Christian. But, like any good politician, he peppered his speeches with biblical references and earned a place in the American pantheon.

I highly recommend reading "The Real Lincoln" by Thomas DiLorenzo.

Lincoln's Confederate counterpart, Jefferson Davis, really was a devout and practicing Christian (Episcopalian) and worshiped at the same church in Richmond as Robert E. Lee. Here in New Orleans, we have the symbolic crown of thorns sent to President Davis (who was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe without charge for two years after the war) from Pope Pius IX.

Well, like the Great Liar and Usurper of the Constitution himself said: "You can fool some of the people some of the time..." ;-)