CHARLOTTE – There is often debate about the purpose of Thanksgiving, but history is very clear on that subject. Although there were recorded earlier thanksgiving celebrations, our current tradition dates back to 1621, nearly a year after the Pilgrims established their community at Plymouth, Massachusetts. They took on the perilous journey, “…for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith…”. Through hard work and assistance from Indians, like Squanto, they had an abundant harvest. As Pilgrim Edward Winslow affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are…far from want.”
As a result, Americans developed a tradition of annually setting aside a time of thanksgiving to God similar to the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated by ancient Israel. There is a record of Thanksgiving proclamations from the founding era including the Continental Congress. Furthermore, President Washington in one of his earliest, and possibly his first executive order, declared, “…it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficient 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 the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed…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 our national and other transgressions…”
Let us continue in that tradition by giving thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.