In his essay, "The Thanksgiving Story," Jerry Wilson reports that George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.
It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her "Boston Ladies Magazine." Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it on the next-to-last Thursday of November to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Public uproar against the decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to the original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, on the fourth Thursday in November.
As our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, let's remember that God's love endures forever; God's faithfulness to all generations. We give thanks for God's presence across the last year, for all that has brought us joy, and for all sources of comfort, healing, and peace. "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; God's steadfast love endures forever!"
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas