God’s Goodness — the Testament of America, for Thanksgiving Day by Rabbi Milton Steinberg (1945)

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God’s Goodness — the Testament of America

Your goodness is revealed in the Testament of America.
Into this land there have assembled
the outcast and the weary
of the older nations of the world.
Here they dreamed a new dream
of a nation founded on the truth,
“that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable rights,
that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”[1]Cf. the Declaration of Independence.

And because you have been with us
and your goodness has kept us strong,
the freedom which they won is still ours.
May we ever be worthy of our American heritage;
may we ever treasure our liberties,
not for ourselves alone but for all our fellowmen;
and may our country become a guiding light to all mankind.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all,
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in….
To do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and with all nations.”[2]President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865.

“Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people?
Is there any better or equal hope in the world?”[3]President Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, 1861.

In founding the United States,
“our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation,
conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal….
It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.
We here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain,…
That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom,
and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people
shall not perish from the earth.”[4]Text adapted from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 1863.

“God’s Goodness — the Testament of America” by Rabbi Milton Steinberg appears on pages 559-560 of The Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945) as part of a service for Thanksgiving Day. It is the last of four “testaments,” the other three being the testament of Nature, Man, and Israel, respectively.

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Notes   [ + ]

  1. Cf. the Declaration of Independence.
  2. President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865.
  3. President Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, 1861.
  4. Text adapted from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 1863.

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