This is the opening quote from the Thanksgiving Proclamation signed by George Washington, president of the United States of America, on Oct. 3, 1789.
Thanksgiving Day is a longstanding tradition across America and as evidenced in President George Washington’s proclamation of 1789, it was declared to ask citizens to have a grateful heart and offer thanksgiving and prayer for God’s blessings.
This day is observed in many ways around the world, and here in Cleveland, Tenn., it is always a special time of sharing with family and friends. It’s a grand time for families to get together, enjoy a meal and give thanks for the year behind us and the year ahead.
I always enjoy this day with family. Each year, we marvel at the growth and changes in our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. My youngest grandson always says he enjoys seeing all his cousins — and this year another cousin will be added when our newest addition, little Claire Marr, will make her debut for her first Thanksgiving at the Marr home.
There are many who are not fortunate enough to have family living close by and that's where church families come in. Being involved in a church is so very important and this season many in our community are reaching out to people who are alone or to the homeless.
At Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, members each week take food and needed items to homeless people in the area. This week, they will take a hot Thanksgiving meal to an area where homeless will be waiting for the food and the fellowship they bring. They will be God's hands extended to a group who need to feel the love of a "family."
For Thanksgiving, I will "borrow" an excerpt from my pastor, the Rev. Robert Smith, who issued a challenge in his latest church newsletter when he asked all of his Wesley flock to email him and share reasons why they are thankful.
He shared some of his favorite scriptures in Thessalonians 5:16-18 which reads, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Robert relays that in the New King James Version of the scripture, the words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” are used 109 times.
His question — "Why are you thankful?" — brings up a host of things in my mind and there's not enough room for me to list all of the reasons I feel especially thankful this year.
I can say I am truly thankful for a church family that reaches outside our doors to help people who cannot help themselves. Cleveland is “The City with Spirit” and there’s no better time than the Thanksgiving season to show how this “spirit” shines.
As we bow our heads and say thanks on Thursday, may we all remember those who cannot be with family because they are serving their country in the military, or they are on duty protecting our community as emergency services personnel, or they are working in a hospital or healthcare facility where their services are needed.
For all these public servants we should be thankful. Every day should be Thanksgiving Day.