Thanksgiving is on the horizon and some are asking why and for what reasons should we be giving "thanks." Our nation is in a recession. Thousands of our young men and women are engaged in a conflict far from their homes and loved ones. A double digit percentage of our workforce finds itself without jobs. Many banks have depended on government loans. Others have failed. The cost of fuel for our homes and our autos continues to fluctuate. Many people cannot afford health insurance. It's one dark thing after another. Yet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not be too bright but it is there and it's getting brighter. It was dark for the early settlers of our nation too and yet in nearly all the early colonies people celebrated a day of thanksgiving despite their hardships and tribulations. And so, too, it was bleak 146 years ago when President Abraham Lincoln established a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated in November every year hence. A civil war had been underway for over two years. Tens of thousands of young men had suffered and died in that conflict but with the fall of Vicksburg on July 3rd and the end of the battle of Gettysburg two days later a light appeared at the end of the dark tunnel. The war would continue for nearly two more years but the end was in sight. More suffering would ensue but President Lincoln on October 3rd of 1863 issued a proclamation to a war weary nation calling upon the people to give thanks to God. The proclamation is rather long (It's available on the internet.) yet there are parts of it which speak to us today.

"The year that is drawing toward its close has be 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 the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God.... No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out the gracious gifts of the most high God.... It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledge as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people."

It is the hope, the desire and the prayer of the Hammonton Ministerium that on November 26th all of us may join together in thanking God for all the blessings He has bestowed on us as a nation and pledge ourselves, in the final words of President Lincoln's proclamation "to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony (and) tranquility." Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.