Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Hong Kong Thanksgiving!

My first Hong Kong Thanksgiving was in 1990 and it was on a rooftop of a village home in Fanling.  21 years later the location was Ma Wan...but I was still on a village rooftop.  The weather in November is perfect so sitting atop a roof with a full spread of food and a glass of wine makes one certainly thankful for one's blessings.  And of course because a Hong Kong Thanksgiving tends to have non-American guests invited, the banquet eating table this year consisted of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and ...sushi!

And the sushi was just like grandma used to make!! :)

Earlier in the day I visited St. Johns Cathedral where they had an afternoon Thanksgiving service.  A number of churches sponsored the event and so different ministers took turns sharing from the scripture on gratitude and having a thankful heart.  The Counsel General for the American Consulate (essentially the American Ambassador  to Hong Kong) then stood before the congregation and read President Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation.  It was... nice but I realized that earlier in the day I read President George Washington's original proclamation of Thanksgiving and Prayer (which made me wonder at what point we dropped the prayer part) which established the holiday back in 1789.

As I mentioned, Obama's proclamation was good...very appropriate and yet compared to Washington's it  came across, at least to me, as muted and neutered.  I won't reproduce the whole thing but a portion of Washington's speech will make my point:

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; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"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 ...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..."
American Consul General reading the President's Proclmation

I often here people say, "Washington wasn't a Christian...he was a Deist."  Well, if that's the case, we need more Deists because if an American President said that today he's be labeled a dangerous Right-Wing radical hell bent on making the United States a theocracy.  Funny since that kind of talk used to get your face on Mt. Rushmore and the One Dollar bill.

Anyhow, its late and I'm ranting.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Bob said...

Glad you had a good Thanksgiving Steve. So much for which we have to be thankful.

Andrew said...

I think it is because Christians swap God and Jesus around so seamlessly that they don't tend to notice that Jesus was never mentioned in that prayer and that the God references were pretty non-distinct. Perfect Deist prayer.

Steve H. said...

Bob: Thanks!

Andy: I think its because the New Testament swaps God and Jesus so seamlessly...because the nature of Christianity is the revelation of God through Jesus Christ who said himself, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father..." As I said, if Washington was a Deist , bring on the Deists.." Of course, if evangelicals said the same thing sans the reference to Jesus, you would still be in objection to it...or am I wrong in that assumption...