This is an article which appeared on Parson John McFarland's Facebook page, November 23, 2017:

Black Friday

Some thoughts on Black Friday eve... For many people this Thanksgiving had to be difficult as they gathered around makeshift tables because of floods, hurricanes and fires. It’s also hard to imagine families getting together for their first Holiday without a loved one killed in one of the tragic shootings. But it is at times like this that it is even more important to go even deeper and remember God's mercy and goodness through it all.

It was President Abraham Lincoln who officially made Thanksgiving a National holiday - enacting what President George Washington first proposed as an official national celebratory "day of public thanksgiving and prayer." For Lincoln, the first Thanksgiving holiday was declared in 1863 after a major Union victory at Gettysburg IN THE MIDST OF THE BLOODY AND BITTER CIVIL WAR that would not end until two years later.

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies," Lincoln said. "To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God ... No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

President Lincoln continued: "I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States ... to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."

So, as Lincoln did, we can use this time of Thanksgiving to appeal to God for the healing of our nation, our families, for comfort and healing and all those who suffer. Instead of thinking of “Black Friday” as a day for super-shopping, maybe like “Good Friday” we can focus on God’s Goodness through it all. When things don’t go our way we can still declare God as Good. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who declared, “Even if we’re thrown into the blazing furnace, our God will rescue us, but even if he doesn’t, we will still worship Him!”

The J Mac family is especially grateful for you, our family and friends. You have kept us in prayer and we have been blessed beyond imagining. May you and your family have a real, deep “Thanks Living!

(My thanks to Tom Lambrecht, of Good News Magazine for inspiring these thoughts)

John K. McFarland
November 2017

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