In praying our thanks, let’s also see the need to take action in world

 By Dale Turner Nov. 22, 1998

  Thanksgiving is only five days away.

  It could be said that Thanksgiving is the most impor­tant day of the year because without gratefulness and thanks­giving, Christmas would lose much of its meaning.

  Thanksgiving is a unique holi­day. It did not begin with a savage battle, the fall of a great city or the birth of a great statesman. It began with the birth of a spirit   the spirit of gratitude.

  Thanksgiving is essentially a home and family day. People will travel hundreds of miles to get back to the old home, sit together at dinner, make a family circle complete and know the happiness of being with those they love.

  The tradition has great value, for so much today tends, to disrupt the family and lessen the meaning of home relationships.

  When our Pilgrim Fathers instituted this anniversary, it was for them no holiday. They were separated by the breadth of the ocean from home, family and friends. A bleak prospect confront­ed them. For what, then, did they give thanks?

  The root of their thanksgiving was the conviction that an overrul­ing providence had enabled them to lay the foundations of a new commonwealth in which freedom of thought, worship and political action were assured.

  On that first Thanksgiving Day, they dedicated themselves to that ideal. From the first, it was their faith that this new land had been made the custodian of ideals, the trustee of precious principles which it was their mission to uphold and defend for all the races on Earth.

  Ever since, our great leaders have taught us that to the United States has been entrusted a
world task   that its mission is to be the leader and helper of the people of the world.

"My dream," said Woodrow Wilson, "is that as the years go on and the world knows more and more of America, it will turn to America for those moral inspira­tions which lie at the base of all freedom; that the world will never fear America unless it feels that she is engaged in some enterprise which is inconsistent with the rights of humanity; and that America will come into the full light of the day when all shall know that she puts human rights above all other rights and that her flag is the flag not only of America. but of humanity.”

  Source of nation’s greatness
  In 1835, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville published a systematic analysis of democracy as he found it in the United States.

  He wrote: "I sought for the genius and greatness of America in her commodious harbors and ample rivers, and it was not there.

  I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there.

  "I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her public school system and her institutions of learning, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her demo­cratic Congress and matchless Constitution, and it was not there.

  "Not until I went into the. churches of America and heard here pulpits aflame with righ­teousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

  A strong and vital church is the leaven that lifts and encourages our country to be the good it was intended to be.

  Let God be thanked that there is an institution on Earth that has a high opinion of us all an institution that teaches that we are all children of one God, with divine origin, supreme worth, boundless possibilities and eternal destiny; an institution that proclaims that there is but one race and but one language of love; a church that earnestly endeavors to embody the principles, attitudes and ac­tions of Jesus in healing the sick, caring for the poor, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and earnestly proclaiming the word of peace.

   A model for the whole world

  The unity, oneness and work­ability we have nurtured and maintained in America for more than two centuries are truly a model for the whole world. Some­day, God willing and humans assenting, we shall recognize our oneness as the Family of one Father and the pledge of our allegiance will be "one world, "indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
  It will be impossible for any thoughtful person in America on Thanksgiving Day to sit at a table loaded with food without remem­bering that there are hundreds of millions of hungry
people in our world today, The sense of our abundance must beget, on peril of moral deterioration, an equal sense of compassion, charity and generosity.

Years ago, "Dear Abby" pub­lished her Thanksgiving prayer. It is as appropriate today as it was years go.

O heavenly Father, we thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May this remembrances stir us to service

That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.