Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor had been lobbying for an official national “Thanksgiving Day Holiday” for 15 years. Her requests were finally honored after she wrote to Abraham Lincoln on September 28, 1863, asking him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She said, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

Throughout the Civil War Lincoln had issued several statements calling for days of thanks. But the matter of an official Thanksgiving holiday had been a decision of the States and festival were held at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln however responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately.

The document included below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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 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.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

North Korea launched a deadly artillery attack Tuesday, firing 100 rounds of artillery at Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. South Korea’s president Lee Myung-bak responded saying “enormous retaliation” is needed to stop Pyongyang’s incitement, but international diplomats urgently appealed for restraint. The provocation this time can be regarded as an invasion of South Korean territory,”

The incident killed two South Korean marines and wounded 15 soldiers and 3 civilians. Hundreds of island residents boarded boats and fled to safety, as the attack also set houses and forests on fire.

It was the first direct artillery attack on South Korean territory since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953.

“God we pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Intervene and bring order and sanity to North Korean leadership. Give South Korea and their allies wisdom and prudence to make the right decisions. God, we plead for calm and a miraculous peace. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus.”

Gettysburg.jpg

On November 19, 1863 (147 years ago today) Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, one of the most profound political statements in all of human history.

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

The Battle of Gettysburg had taken place four months earlier. 50,000 soldiers had died (23,000 Union and 28,000 Confederate).  General Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army’s decline.

Ponder again Lincoln’s words. What strikes you? Is it his reaffirmation of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence language, “that all men are created equal?”  Is it Lincoln’s somber statement of purpose: “It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work?”  Or is it his humble submission to sovereign God’s purpose, his Enlightenment-man conversion to orthodox Christian faith, that “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom?” 

Ponder and respond…

“You Say You Want a Revolution” – Apple, Steve Jobs, the Beatles and Changing Times

The long battle between Apple and Abbey Road appears to be over. With 2 of the Fab Four now singing Penny Lane under some distant Strawberry Field, and Apple’s Steve Jobs having battled his own near death experience, the feud that has kept Beatle’s music off of iTunes appears to be over. Apple today is set to announce that they will now offer the Beatle’s anthology on their site that dominates 70% of the downloadable music sector.

Apple’s conquest suggests a final nail in the coffin of traditional music distribution. It’s just another sign of changing times and the inevitable centralization – and yet democratization – of all aspects of culture via the Worldwide Web. It may seem like a small thing in the scope of things, but this final holdout signals a sea change. We are now in a new world.

“God, the world is changing. The small shifts we experience taken together signal a kind of revolution. Our future looks convenient, yet monolithic. We have more individual choices than we can handle, yet we find ourselves herded into single file by corporate and governmental forces that dominate our lives. The changes are real but are not truly revolutionary – not as we need it! But you, Lord, never change even while you bring transformation in our lives. You secure our freedom and yet govern our lives with tenderness and compassion and hope. You lead us on this TRUE revolution of liberty and joy. And for that we are thankful. In Jesus we trust!”