Thanksgiving: Who Do We Thank At The Table?

November 24, 2010 — 4 Comments

A Prayer For Our Times

I thought I would consult the postmodern oracle and ask Google “who do you thank on Thanksgiving?”

The   number one search from the cyber prophet came from  “” and listed  “Godless Thanksgiving” as the answer. The detail read, “It must be shown that giving thanks to God is unnecessary or senseless”. I was pretty much floored by the Oracle’s response; and immediately wondered if Google had an expiry date and I could soon consult a new oracle.

The website went on to say that we should give thanks, not to God, but to “people, farmers, soldiers and veterans, doctors and modern medicine, engineers and modern technology, science and scientists, and friends and family” …in that order. It is interesting to note that our “friends and family” are listed last in the grateful food chain; and that part of our gratitude should be directed to product such as “modern medicine, science, and modern technology”.

Of course, there is no question that whether you are a secular humanist or a believer, we should thank everyone from friends and family to our soldiers and veterans and everyone in between.  But should we not be thanking The Lord? The master of the Universe? Isn’t that the origination of this National Holiday?

This is what the Thanksgiving Proclamation penned by Abraham Lincoln in October 1863 stated.  Here’s an excerpt: “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. “ Furthermore, we should offer “up the ascriptions justly due Him…and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine Purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union”.


The number two website on the search claimed “that Thanksgiving is a national holiday, not a religious holiday.”   Well it’s sad to say, but Thanksgiving seems to be going the way of Christmas and becoming more and more a secular holiday.   Whether you are Republican, Democrat, tea partier, I think we would most all agree that God is being ushered out of the institutional world. He has been taken out of government, schools, textbooks and the national holidays. The biggest shocker is that He is even being invited out of the church. A Midwestern homemaker told me recently that the steering committee for her local church ordered the crucifixes removed from the sanctuary because they were “deemed too controversial”.

A blogger on the third website known as “askville” says, “Our family plays scrabble and hangs out”.  Now it is great to get down time with family and loved ones on this holiday, but Thanksgiving should be more than just a chance to hang out. I have had many friends say that, under pressure from certain influencers inside the family, that the mere mention of God is being wrestled out of the prayer liturgy at the dinner table. We can thank the firemen, but not God.  For those of us who believe, it is hard to imagine how The Lord must feel this Thanksgiving. In some cases, He’s not even being asked to show up at the childs’ table.

I heard a wonderful phrase the other day, “God is a gentlemen. If you invite him to leave the church, the government, and your household, He will do so. But if you invite him back into your home, He will gladly return”.

This Thanksgiving, I would like to make a recommendation.  It might shake things up a bit and that’s probably a good thing.  Perhaps it might even elevate the conversation beyond who is winning the family Scrabble game. Why not read from a piece of history? Why not read Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation at the table?  It’s not that long; perhaps 500 word-count, less than two pages. The 16th President put his seal upon it; it is a part of the fabric of our history. And it’s very PC. Also, it would put those modern Oracles in their place: Thanksgiving was initiated to thank God, and it was designed as a spiritual holiday to bring the nation together in prayer.  You can find the proclamation on line. And you won’t have to search too hard for it. And it’s available to anyone who wants to find it.

Saving Grace by Norman Rockwell

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4 responses to Thanksgiving: Who Do We Thank At The Table?

  1. Beth (Kirkpatrick) Byler November 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Thanksgiving comes from the heart. It overflows from the heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouths speaks.” So, if thankfulness isn’t there, it’s not likely to be quick on our lips. It’s deeper than words we say around a meal table. It’s an attitude that governs our thoughts, our actions, our speech, and how we view God. The very fact that we have breath in our lungs and we are alive today should be reason to give thanks! Who do we thank? We need to thank our Daddy (with a capital “D”) ~ our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it, the One who breathes life into us, the One who loves us more than we can imagine, the One who desires a relationship with each and every one of us, the One who loved us enough to send His son Jesus.

    Here’s my prayer for the readers of this blog:

    “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 NLT

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. My thoughts to a “T”…as in THANKSgiving!

    Great post, Dave. Thanks!

  3. Well written, Mr. Kirkpatrick. I was thinking about this very topic as I was baking my pies today. “Bless us , Oh Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen. Amazing how a simple prayer from my Catholic school days has the ability to make people squirm in their seats at the Thanksgiving table.

  4. Well written, Mr. Kirkpatrick. The same thoughts were on my mind as I was baking my pies this morning. I don’t know exactly when a simple prayer of thanks before breaking bread began to make people so uncomfortable. When I was a Catholic school girl, a meal without this little reminder of our connection to God was unthinkable. “Bless us O Lord, for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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