Each year, the church calendar and our national calendar coincide in such a way that the celebration of Thanksgiving and the observance of Christ the King Sunday happen just days apart. It’s usually no contest – Thanksgiving wins, every time. But this year, the alignment of these two celebrations seem especially poignant. Perhaps they should be held together more than ever in these pandemic times. Maybe this is the year to lift up the affirmation that Christ is King, a declaration that puts everything else – the good and the bad – in a new perspective. We proclaim that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ – not pandemics, not illness or death, not economic uncertainty, not national polarization. Christ is King and we can be thankful.
It turns out that George Washington, in his first National Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789), sounded many of the same themes, which still seem surprisingly relevant today:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor . . . Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord …
Friends, Christ is King. Let us rejoice and be glad and give thanks!