J. Pepper Bryars: The president’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation keeps the focus where it ought to be – God.
As Alabamians gather today to watch football and feast on fried turkey, we should also remember the words written by President George Washington in his proclamation establishing “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” in 1789 that eventually became known as Thanksgiving Day.
“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,” Washington wrote. He added that the day should 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.”
Washington thanked God for many specific blessings – the revolution, the peace of the union, its prosperity, and the religious freedom they established. He also asked God to forgive the nation’s “transgressions” and to “enable us all, whether in public or private stations…to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
The tradition of presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamations continues under President Donald Trump, and with a noticeable change from those issued from his immediate predecessor.
Where the first proclamation focused entirely on thanking God, those issued by President Barrack Obama, while making reference to God, seemed to focus more on expressing appreciation to other people and organizations.
That’s all well and good, of course. People need to be thanked and recognized for their good works and services. But changing such a day’s focus away from God and toward man, even slightly, betrays an overtly humanistic view of the world.
If we are fortunate, we have others to thank for that fortune, thinks the humanist. Conversely, if we’re unfortunate, we have others to blame for that misfortune.
Not so with Trump. His proclamation points directly to the source of all blessings.
“On Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings,” the president wrote. “As one people, we seek God’s protection, guidance, and wisdom, as we stand humbled by the abundance of our great nation and the blessings of freedom, family, and faith.”
We should take a lesson from this today, and keep the focus where it needs to be – our Lord Jesus Christ, and all that he has given us.
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