I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Despite the imagery of Puritan settlers with their sun bonnets, buckled shoes and peculiar hats, Thanksgiving Day began with the Civil War. The federal government and various states often called for days of prayer before the Civil War. They prayed to avoid the coming conflict; they prayed that it would end.
As the worst war in American history was finally winding down, President Lincoln called for another day of prayer on the last Thursday of November. It would be a day of thanksgiving that the American economy had not faltered, that no foreign nation had intervened, and that God still promised peace to those willing to live in peace.
He didn't live to see the day, but a grieving, exhausted nation established Thanksgiving as an everlasting memorial, more permanent than an eternal flame or Washington monument.
During this time of edgy tension in the United States, when many people cannot agree to disagree but feel compelled to hate one another, we should remember the Civil War. Today's gun culture seems as deeply rooted as slavery, the peculiar institution. Many people, like slave owners, have a religious conviction of their right to own gun. They are no more willing to compromise their right than Christians are to compromise about the Resurrection of Jesus. The death of thousands of children and adults says nothing to that religious principle. The discussion ended soon after the slaughter of innocents in Connecticut.
We pray this intransigence will not lead to another civil war. We can expect many more will die of gun violence: by murder, suicide and accident. Everyone should expect friends, neighbors and loved ones to be murdered; it's not a matter of if but who and when. We're passed the point of surprise.
In the Spirit of Thanksgiving, we pray that God will lead us out of this impasse. Because God's ways are unpredictable and often unimaginable, we should expect only the unexpected. Deliverance from gun violence will be as astonishing as the Resurrection. How long will it take? As long as it takes. Will you or I live to see the day? Probably not. But, as the Wise Man Job said in another hopeless situation,
As for me, I know that my vindicator lives,and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust.This will happen when my skin has been stripped off,and from my flesh I will see God:I will see for myself,my own eyes, not another’s, will behold him:my inmost being is consumed with longing.