from the Blace Robe Regiment the meaning of Thanksgiving and our country
Dear Black Robe Regiment Members,
Greetings and blessings to you all. Although this past year has been one of great disappointment, disharmony, and disunion with the princes and principalities that lord over us there is reason to be thankful at this time. We can take comfort in the fact that we are governed not by worldly leaders but by a sovereign God who is in control. We must always remember this and submit to his authority.
Let us take a moment to remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving and let that be the impetus to renew and restore our vigor. Thanksgiving is the first truly American experience that sets forth and affirms the blessings by our Lord God Almighty in the new worldly experiment of America. Driven by God’s providence and grace, our country’s founding fathers fully established the role of a divine being in their seeking to establish a place where they could fully live their lives in obedience to His plan. It is not the 1776 founders of whom we are all familiar with but rather the 1600 era Pilgrim and Puritan founders who truly laid the foundation for this notion that this land is to be a place of freedom, tolerance, and harmony. This was expressed by the leaders of our first colonial settlers’ in the Mayflower Compact.
“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.”
The Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony John Winthrop first expressed the notion of American exceptionalism in penning a sermon aboard the tall ship Arbella bound for this new land. Drawing from the Sermon on the Mount and the parable of Salt and Light, Winthrop called upon his fellow puritans to lead a life worthy of their calling in this new land. There was a time when their life was not up to the Christian calling with their wrong doings in Europe. He wanted to change their practices and start a new beginning. The people must lead a godly and pure life. The world is watching and they had to be a model to others as the "city upon a hill".
The roots of our modern day Thanksgiving was succinctly traced in this article by Henry Morris IV of the Institute for Creation Research.
Perhaps no other custom so clearly reveals this nation’s original character as that of Thanksgiving Day. Other nations have adopted similar observances, but America was the first to nationally recognize its dependence on God with a special day set aside to thank Him for all His many blessings.
While the exact date of the first American Thanksgiving observance is debatable, there is no doubt this custom sprang from the shared Judeo-Christian heritage of those early pilgrims. From early Spanish expeditions in the late 1500s to the Popham Colony in Maine in 1607, each group publically declared their thanks to the God of the Bible. Twelve years later, settlers in Virginia declared a day of thanksgiving for their survival on the shores of this then uncharted land. And in 1623, Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony established the most famous of all such observances when a bountiful harvest prompted him to proclaim a special day to “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”1
During the War of Independence from England, the U.S. Continental Congress set aside a day for thanksgiving and praise for the decisive victory at Saratoga in 1777, marking the first time that all American colonies took part in such an event on the same day. The following year at Valley Forge, George Washington declared a special day of thanksgiving upon receiving news that France would provide aid to our cause. And later, as the young nation’s first president, he responded to a congressional petition by declaring Thursday, November 26, 1789, as the first Thanksgiving Day of the United States of America.
Many state and national days of thanksgivings have been proclaimed since that first Thanksgiving declaration. But it was the tireless crusade of Sarah Josepha Hale that finally led to the establishment of this beautiful observance as a national American holiday. Her moving letters so touched the heart of Abraham Lincoln that in 1863—in the midst of the horrors of the Civil War—he urged his countrymen to be mindful of their many blessings, that they are “the gracious gifts of the Most High God” who ought to be thanked “with one heart and one voice, by the whole American People.”2
Of course, giving thanks to God is certainly not an exclusive American convention—it was first commanded of Christian believers many thousands of years before. Paul wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Notice that the charge was not to give thanks for everything—rather, we are to give thanks in everything. Good or bad, right or wrong, be thankful in everything! Our American forebears knew this well.
- Governor William Bradford’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, Plymouth Plantation, 1623.
- Proclamation of Thanksgiving, Abraham Lincoln, 1863.
As referenced above, our First Continental Congress in 1777 put forth our first proclamation of Thanksgiving. These words still resonate within the hearts of many of us today. It is altogether fitting to read them once again and remind ourselves at this time of such uncertainty and strife that we stand on the shoulders of giants. In our eternal battle against the forces of evil we must steel our resolve and remain ever vigilant. It was so readily apparent with this latest election that we have so much work that needs to be done to restore our republic and its Judeo/Christian heritage and to awaken our Christian faith leaders and their flocks to their biblical responsibility to be Salt and Light and Watchmen on the Wall. We will continue in our fight for the restoration of a moral and upright society that once again celebrates its heritage and identity. We wish for you all a most joyous Thanksgiving and that when you assemble with family and friends that you take pause to give thanks to the eternal Provider and consecrate yourselves to His service. Pray for revival.
FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE:
That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and
That, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance;
That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE:
That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost."
In His Service,
The Black Robe Regiment and Salt and Light Institute Team
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