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Life

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Happy Thanksgiving! Here is Abraham Lincoln’s short speech to institute Thanksgiving as a holiday in the United States.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness (sic) of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

– Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1865

Categories
Life

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Happy Thanksgiving! Here is Abraham Lincoln’s short speech to institute Thanksgiving as a holiday in the United States.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness (sic) of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

– Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1865

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Life

The Comfort of Advent

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Matt. 1:23)

For many people, Christmas is the most brutal time of year. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a recent divorce, loneliness, or something else, Christmas can be a sad reminder that life is not how it should be. Even if Christmas is a happy time for you, the indwelling power of sin and the general brokenness of the world reminds you that, indeed, life is not how it should be.

On that first Christmas night, when Mary bore Jesus in a dirty stable, the world was no different than ours. It was filled with disease, war, oppression, injustice, famine, hunger, and private sin. The problems were less noticeable because Mary and Joseph didn’t have Twitter or CNN, but they were no less prevalent. While “long lay the world in sin and error pining,” the baby boy Jesus, entered with a most precious name: Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

The God of the Bible is transcendent: he is holy, lifted up, and above all things (Isa.57:15). Nevertheless, he is immanent and personal. God “became flesh and dwelt among us” so that we might see “his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). The God of the Bible is sovereign over the plight we face, yet he is not immune to it, for not only is “God with us,” he is with us in our sufferings.

The baby called Immanuel would grow up not as a rich, famous ruler who had servants fluff his pillow all the day. No, he grew up “a man of sorrows, and [was] acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces” (Isa. 53:3). He became a servant and though he was God, he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…and [he] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6, 8). His suffering on the cross was for you: he took the penalty of sin you deserved (Rom. 3:21-25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 1:22; 1 Pet. 2:24). His suffering on the cross was also with you: he is the one who “comforts us in all our affliction…For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:4).

This Advent season, you may ask God, “Why have I suffered so much? Why is life so hard?” You can take comfort in the fact that Jesus–very God and very man–asked his Father the same question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). You see, Jesus lost the Father’s hand so that you might grab hold of it. He lost fellowship with the Father so that you might enter the Father’s family. He took the wrath of God so that you might only receive grace. Jesus suffered not to eliminate suffering in your life or in the world (though he will do that on the last day). He suffered so that you might ultimately share in his victory over suffering through his resurrection.

What a comfort! What a Savior! Truly, Jesus is Immanuel.

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Life

Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalm 104

A PSALM FOR GIVING THANKS

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence
with singing!

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us,
and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

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Life

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day! Do I say that with any particular celebratory delight?  Not at all. But it’s still fun because spring is here and that means people are much happier than they were three months ago.

According to the most reliable source online, Wikipedia, the earliest May Day celebrations “appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries.”  The day also has roots in celebrating fertility (ancient Egypt), remembering political/social victories (U.S. and U.K.), engaging in sexual activity (Germany), warding against witchcraft (Germany), and commemorating the beginning of spring (England).  If people in the U.S. celebrate today, they normally give a May Basket to a loved one.

Back in medieval times, during the festival in England, at the break of dawn on May 1, villagers would go out into the forest and gather flowers and wood for the day’s celebration.  The largest piece of wood brought back would be used as the Maypole.  This gathering of flowers and wood is calling “bringing in the may.”

The poem The Court of Love (c. 1346), written by Geoffrey Chaucer (died c. 1400), was probably an inspiration to the poem which contains this excerpt, dated around 1541. It gives us a glance into the practice of “bringing in the may”:

And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthorn brought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.

Villagers & Morris-men dancing beside the Maypole on Ickwell Green, Bedfordshire; Dawn on 1st May 2005.

The Maypole, in England, in all its glory.