The next National Day of Thanksgiving on Saturday 31 May is fast approaching! It is our joy to draw your attention to this momentous day in the life of our nation. According to its mission statement, this is a day set apart for thanking God and thanking each other.
Beginning in 2004 with the full support of the Governor General, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, this is its eleventh celebration. You can see their individual statements of support for 2014 here. We encourage you to give to and support this most worthy cause.
Australian theologian Charles Ringma writes how an attitude of gratitude in Christians “expresses a vision of life where God’s pervasive presence and influence is seen, not only in the ministry of the church, but in all the dimensions of life. God in nature. God in family. God in the human community. God in our schools, institutions, and neighbourhoods. With this vision, thankfulness to God becomes the pervasive reality of our lives … Thankfulness is the oil of all good human effort!“
The organisers of the day explain, “The National Day of Thanksgiving is a day of celebration of our Christian heritage and of the Christian values that have made our nation great. It is a day when we thank God for all that He has given us as a nation and thank each other for the selfless contribution different people have made to our lives or that of our communities. It is a day when Christians across our nation are invited to become the hands and feet of Jesus by doing acts of kindness to others, especially those who are not as well off as we ourselves may be.”
This year more than 1500 communities are expected to participate in the National Day of Thanksgiving celebrations, thus engaging an estimated 250,000 people across the country.
Right from its inception, the Australian Prayer Network, led by Brian Pickering, has been the main facilitator of the National Day of Thanksgiving. You can find a more detailed description of the day on their website.
On the day, much gratitude will be shared in the community in many creative and joyful ways including the giving of thanksgiving cards and ribbons.
In sharing gratitude through acts of kindness to others, participants are sharing God’s love and compassion to those around them.
The focus groups for thanking this year are people who work in the transport and travel industries and our neighbours. For more details click here.
Then as a culmination of the day, the organisers encourage a response they call ‘Australia Worships’. This is a time for participants to worship and give thanks to God for our nation and the freedoms and blessings we enjoy in this Great Southland of the Holy Spirit – for our way of life. ‘Australia Worships’ usually takes place on the Saturday night or as a segment in Sunday services the next day. For more details click here.
Though plans for the National Day of Thanksgiving in four days’ time are well advanced, it’s not too late to join in and celebrate this day. The organisers in their most recent newsletter suggest, “why not consider undertaking a simple act of kindness towards someone who has been a blessing to you over the past 12 months. Even taking someone for a cup of coffee to show your love and appreciation could have quite an impact on their lives. Don’t forget, saying THANK YOU opens doors nothing else can.”
For your interest you can read any of the past eight National Day of Thanksgiving newsletters that have gone out since 15 February. In browsing through them or the website you will find resources, video clips and ideas for celebrating the day. You will also find an invitation to share your stories, photos and videos of your celebrations. There is even an article on ‘How Gratitude is the Key to a Healthier Life‘!
The Canberra Declaration quotes the preamble of the Constitution of Australia which says, “Humbly relying on the blessings of Almighty God…” We believe the National Day of Thanksgiving gives wonderful expression to this.
The organisers remind us that “the National Day of Thanksgiving will be what you make it. It is an opportunity not an event. It provides great opportunity for congregations and individuals to connect in a positive and affirming way with the community they seek to serve and those they meet in everyday life. It can be a doorway to effective evangelism and mission if used creatively.”
As we look forward to the National Day of Thanksgiving, we thank God for you and we thank you for signing the Canberra Declaration. We also thank God for His answers to your prayers and your action for the protection of Christian values in Australia.
Let’s ‘oil’ our communities all across Australia with acts of kindness and words of thanks to God and to each other. If you use social media, please ‘Like’ the National Day of Thanksgiving and share the posts with your friends.
Yours for expressing and sharing gratitude throughout Australia,
David Rowsome and Warwick Marsh
PS. We encourage you to share the gratitude and send an email of thanksgiving to every member of the Australian Federal Parliament and every member of each State Parliament. In ten minutes you can send a personal message to almost 800 parliamentarians. Send them an inspirational thought or quote and mention the National Day of Thanksgiving. Click here to share the gratitude.
The Canberra Declaration is the work of many people and organisations.
The administration of the initiative is being supported by the Australian Christian Values Institute and Australian Heart Ministries.
A big thank you to those who have already contributed! Every donation makes such a difference.
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Please click here to donate.