Turkey, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, and of course — football. Mmm! So much to be thankful this year. But there is more than eating yummy, belt-busting comfort foods and cheering on your preferred team. Thanksgiving is about giving praise to God, and it was officially endorsed by President Abraham Lincoln. Yes, Lincoln understood America necessitated this promulgation to unite the country during divisive times. He did just that 1863 by proclaiming the first Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War in October 1863.
Narrative of Lincoln’s Proclamation
“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, …, 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 …, 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 Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Lincoln’s second declaration for Thanksgiving was originally set for the last Thursday of November. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt altered the date by signing a bill making the third Thursday in November the modern Thanksgiving Day holiday (this had little to do with religion).
Our actions today give God glory besides our spoken praises as Lincoln offered. This Thanksgiving, there are steps all of us can take, regardless of church denominations or political viewpoints. We’ve shared simplistic faith-filled actionable nuggets to inspire you to be the feet of Jesus this holiday.
Get Your Praise, Prayer and Worship into Gear
Scripture encourages us to offer praise to God for His goodness and in times of struggles. We can begin there as Jeremiah extorts: “From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.” The prayers of the righteous availeth much. Praying the Word of God is a compelling action for the community and the nation. Not everyone has family, or funds to have a feast during the year or holidays. As Lincoln said in his proclamation, we need to pray for those who don’t have support. Prayer works!
There are over 200 food banks in the United States. We all can aid food banks now and during the year. The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia holds an Annual Mayflower Marathon November 22–24, a 57-hour consecutive food drive taking place the weekend leading into the holiday. Check-in with your local chapter to see what’s needed or find designated areas for donation drop-offs. The Salvation Army feeds an average of 156,000 meals every day, including feeding the homeless with their foodbank. Picking up extra food when shopping is a way to have something on hand for food banks. When there is a sale, donate items like can goods and non-perishables to take part in feeding the community. A little does go a long way and it’s an amazing feeling to bless someone!
Military Families Need Help
According to Feeding America, 25 percent of military families – 620,000 households need assistance in feeding their families. Operation Holiday Joy supporters donated more than $1.5 million for military families buying 320,000 toys and delivering 25,000 baskets of food during the holidays since 2004. Salute American Heroes award checks, food and gifts to wounded veterans during the holidays and all year. For a list on how to support veterans in your area go to Operations Homefront.
Volunteer at Soup Kitchens
Soup kitchens are looking for volunteers. However, you need to call ahead of time to schedule. If you can’t help during the holidays, donating time once a month can be a family activity in serving others.
Help Vulnerable Seniors
According to the organization, Meals on Wheels, nine million seniors face the threat of hunger in America. They help the most vulnerable seniors for more than a hot meal. Volunteers provide compassion, encouragement and a safety check for seniors in the community who don’t have loved ones to care for their well-being.
Through giving time and resources, all of us are the hands and feet of God on the earth. In our words and actions, we have the opportunity to celebrate God with thanksgiving beyond our feasts during Thanksgiving. We have the power to unite, to help uplift others and mend divisions in America. Why? Because the more consequential picture is — all of us are God’s children.
In his July 4 address to Congress in 1861, Lincoln said we need to take the burdens off of others and “elevate the condition of men—to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life.”
SHARE YOUR ACTIONS TO BLESS OTHERS ON OAP OR SHARE PICTURES OF YOUR SERVICE TO OTHERS THIS THANKSGIVING!