spend some time exploring thankful thoughts as you navigate Papaw’s website . . .
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an emotional response to goodness
Congress never intended their declaration of a day of thanksgiving to impose American families with a national religious ritual, but hoped to unite Americans of every faith in a common sense of gratitude.
They knew that the strength of their new country would be in a national unity amongst ethical and religious diversity. Their aspiration was that the new constitution would form “a more perfect union” for future generations to protect one another’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
Consequently, America’s tradition of a national day of Thanksgiving can be a food fest, or it can be a religious holiday honoring God in a festival of gratitude with family and friends.
While I hope you enjoy your family’s unique traditions this year, I would like to invite you to experience something a little different.
I’ve published this website to help you take time to consider our forefather’s joy in celebrating the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789.
As a Christian, I believe that God has blessed our lives with their answered prayers.
Generations of Americans will spend eternity rejoicing with them in heaven because of our love for God and His goodness.
However, to begin an experience of joy with our forefathers while still in this life, I decided to consider and meditate in the religious-historical context of the first National Day of Thanksgiving.
I do not believe that you have to be an American nor a Christian to enjoy these thoughts.
So, if you want to begin your holiday season with thankful thoughts about America’s heritage . . .
“Come, relax a while exploring Papaw’s thoughts for Thanksgiving.”
Our founding fathers are not a myth. . .
In the 1730’s, crowds of colonists began believing the personalized John 3:16 theology of evangelical preachers.
This “Great Awakening” reshaped their personal lives in family, and community.
By worshipping God in day to day life, they began to develop a new world view in applying and contrasting their religious beliefs to traditional thoughts about government, slavery, and religious ritual.
Then years later, as the children of this “Great Awakening” came of age, these values were debated and questioned as the lives and families of our founding fathers were torn apart in an eight-year civil war waged throughout the British colonies.
The first Americans did not always agree. . .
Though the colonists were predominately Christians, they were divided over many ethical values like slavery, native American relationships, God appointed Kings. . . and even the details of prayer and worship.
In 1776, these religiously diverse and fiercely independent colonies rose up against King George III, denying their allegiance to the Anglican “divine right” ruling monarch of the British Empire.
Some could not bear to defy God in revolting against His King, so they left the colonies.
The majority believed that king and subject were equal before God.
Passionate about being able to govern without a King, these colonists fought for the ideal of preserving the equality of rights bestowed by God unto all humanity. . . even while debating the humanity of negroes, both black and native American.
The divided colonies agreed to find common ground. . .
After eight years of resolved determination, they won the war and tried to form a nation based upon their various religious values and ethical principles while maintaining much of their independence.
It didn’t work.
They floundered for six years before forming the American government as we know it today.
After much debate, they began a new journey to constitutionally form this more perfect union based not upon the “divine right” of a King, nor any one Christian denomination or state religion, but upon commonly held spiritual values.
The first Americans were a religious people. . .
Revolutionary War general George Washington was unanimously elected president, and the hope was that at last the thirteen independent colonies would become one functional nation that protected individual liberties and religious practice equally for all citizens.
Though he never used these words, did President George Washington believe that God had blessed the thirteen colonies to have at last become “One Nation Under God”?
Explore his thoughts in the thanksgiving proclamation of 1789….
After dissension and debate, on or before September 28, 1789, Congress sent a committee to the president with a resolution requesting a national day of Thanksgiving.
The president, acting under this joint recommendation of congress, called upon all Americans on November 26, 1789 to collectively acknowledge God’s goodness toward the new nation and its individual citizens . . .
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th. day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for:
- Protecting the colonies
- Taking care of us through the war
- Peace and prosperity after the war
- Peaceable agreements on state and federal constitutions
- Civil and religious freedoms, research and education systems, books, and the press
- All other blessings
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to:
- Pardon personal and national sin
- Do proper and punctual work
- Render government to be a blessing to all the people
- Guide and bless all governments
- Promote true religion and science for America and other nations
- Grant prosperity unto all mankind as He knows best
America was united in prayer and Thanksgiving
Of course, not every American would heed President Washington’s thanksgiving proclamation, especially since less than 6 % of the population were involved in his election.
However, we do know from newspaper articles that it was published and broadcast throughout the land, and we also know from the documentation of “The Great Awakening” that religious discussion and church meetings were a part of American community life.
This first generation of Americans were predominately Christians who grew up in the revival spirit of “The Great Awakening”.
Like many Christians throughout history, our love for Jesus is a driving force in our lives.
We know that Jesus loves us, and in gratitude, we want to be like Jesus…
. . . because like George Washington, we believe that God is
Religious values were mutually respected. . .
Just prior to the onset of war with the British Empire, Reverend Jacob Duché led George Washington and his fellow delegates in prayer at the 1st Continental Congress September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.
If you are a Christian who believes that God blesses our lives with answered prayer, consider these excerpts from that prayer . . .
“Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; . . . .
. . . That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people.”
https://chaplain.house.gov/archive/continental.html (offsite link to full text)
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Though still divided, Congress asked Americans to pray together for the common good. . .
After the war, “when order, harmony and peace were effectually restored to the land”, President Washington was called to lead the nation in the first national prayer of thanksgiving.
As he penned the words to that prayer, would he have remembered his personal prayers and struggles as well as this inspirational 1774 prayer meeting with John and Samuel Adams, Roger Sherman, John Jay, and the other delegates who historians call the founding fathers ?
As I consider Washington’s recorded prayer points, this is why I do not believe that his was a proud and arrogant generation. . .
- Though they believed that their new nation was an answer to prayer, they prayed for forgiveness of both personal and national sin that Thanksgiving.
- Knowing that the new nation was not perfect, President Washington asked for Americans to pray for God’s blessings in establishing social goals for future generations. . .
Take time to consider your reaction to the following thoughts…
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Do you believe that God has answered the prayers of this first generation of Americans?
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Are we inspired today by their hopes and dreams for their new nation?
♥ ♥ ♥
Do we seek and pray for unity when there is ethical polarity?
Prayer can be a powerful awareness of love that reaches across generations. . .
Could God be answering the first generation of American’s prayers for Liberty with our gratitude?
Does our gratitude, after 230 years, inspire us to seek common ground with our fellow citizens?
During campaigns, our politicians traditionally promise jobs and money…
but do you believe that our heritage is financial wealth or commonly held spiritual values?
Are we struggling together in fulfilling each generation
of American’s dream of
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL ….
♥On Thanksgiving Day, are our collective prayers heard as “One Nation Under God“? ♥
♥ ♥ ♥ Meditate in His Presence day and night ♥ ♥ ♥
Psalm 1 (paraphrase)
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