An Historic Day of Thanksgiving
On December 16, 1773, an act that would lead to the U. S. Revolutionary War ensued. It would come to be called “The Boston Tea Party”. That season of America’s history should be studied well by every pastor. Pastors need to be convinced that this nation had solid Christian roots. We all need to see the role that pastors played in keeping their congregants informed of the issues of the day, as well as leading them in prayer and action regarding those matters. Today, I have an excerpt from a sermon for you on a national day of thanksgiving called by the “provincial government” of the Massachusetts colony. There was no standard Thanksgiving Day holiday at that time, but days of Thanksgiving were regularly called by government authorities. This one was to be observed “In thanksgiving to God for the Blessings enjoyed; and humiliation on account of public Calamities.” “Public calamities” is referring to the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party. I encourage you to go here and read it in its entirety and see who Rev. John Lathrop was. His Thanksgiving sermon is a part of the recorded Christian history of this nation.
“Sermon by JOHN LATHROP, A. M.
Pastor of the Second Church in Boston
December 15, 1774
“AUTHORIZED by a divine precept, [Exodus 34:22] and excited by the feelings of gratitude, the inhabitants of these northern provinces, have made it their constant practice, to meet in their religious assemblies, at the close of the year, and devoutly offer unto the Lord, their sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
“When the fruits of the earth are gathered in, and we are furnished with provisions for an expensive winter season, nothing can be more proper, than for a people professing godliness, to unite in paying their thankful acknowledgments to the father of the universe, for the expressions of his goodness.—And we rejoice, that the representatives of this Province, who, in the present distracted state of our public affairs, have been consulting the most proper ways to recover and secure our invaded liberties, were not unmindful of the blessings we receive from God almighty; but have invited us to observe this day of general thanksgiving.
“But although we have much reason to bless the Lord, for the many expressions of his goodness, through the course of the last year, it is proper, even on this day of festivity, ‘to humble ourselves before God, on account of those sins, for which he hath suffered our present calamities to come upon us, and implore the divine blessing, that by the assistances of his grace, we may be enabled to reform whatever is amiss, that so God may be pleased to continue to us the blessings we enjoy, and remove the tokens of his displeasure.’”
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:1, 3, 7-8a, & 10; NIV)
Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:
- Thank the Lord for a nation that honored the Lord at its point of establishment.
- Thank God for our Christian heritage, which is well-recorded for all to see.
- Thank Him for the examples we have in history of pastors, such as Rev. Lathrop, who engaged the culture and taught their congregants how to properly reside in a fallen world.
- Ask the Lord to stir our pastors today to be bold in their pulpits. We need to know more than how to live a Christian life. We need to know how to expand God’s Kingdom in the world around us and keep the darkness out.
- Thank the Lord for the United States of America. We may not be a perfect nation, but we are a nation He established and we are largely a nation that worships Him.
A prayer you can pray:
Lord, we come to you and thank You for the United States of America. We thank You for our Christian heritage. We thank You that we can look back on our history and see how You led Your people here to come and form a nation that would honor You in everything they did. They were careful to seek You for every decision they made. The pastors kept the people informed from their pulpits of what was going on in the country, and why. They were not shy about this. They were bold, There was no concept of keeping the Church separate from matters of the State. They looked to the Word of God to help them know if the government was operating properly. Then, they told the people if it was or was not! They never let the government decide how Believers would serve You. They led the people to seek You on behalf of the government officials acting out of alignment with the Word. What a concept! Christians holding their governing officials to account. Where are those leaders today? We call them forth, Lord! Raise them up. Fill them with boldness and fill their mouths with Truth from Your Word. Teach us, lead us, guide us and sustain us, Holy One. We love You and we love America. We pray all this with thanksgiving in the Name of Jesus, amen.
We thank God for America’s Christian heritage!