400 YEARS OF THANKSGIVING!
The first Thanksgiving was 400 years ago today! What a blessed time the pilgrims and natives had together -- about 50 pilgrims and 90 natives of the Wampanoag tribe led by their chief Massasoit, plus their dearest native friend, Squanto. Friendships had been forged; the Gospel lived out, proclaimed, and received; a treaty signed between the two groups (that never was broken). And so, they celebrated their gratitude with joy, fun, and feasting!
But today's revisionists make us ashamed of this beautiful heritage – so ashamed that we can’t even remember this monumental 400-year anniversary! They say the pilgrims brought genocide and all manner of evil. In truth, the pilgrims were a bedraggled little band of Christians hungering for a homeland where they could freely practice their faith.
We should be grateful to the Pilgrims for their Mayflower Compact that would be the first written constitution in the New World. It would lay the foundation for our two documents that perpetually has stunned other nations: The Declaration of Independence, which asserts that governments derive their powers from the consent of those governed and our Constitution.
What a marvelous story we have here of a Covenant people, who made a covenant with God and each other to let Jesus Christ be their Lord and King. The first Thanksgiving, far from a hollow secular observance, was an expression of their abiding faith. They truly were grateful that although half their number had died since their arrival on the Mayflower, they still saw a faithful God moving them through their extreme hardships and griefs to a place of beauty. And hope did not disappoint them!
How we need to bring out our old history books, proclaim the excellence of reconciliation, friendship, trust, and community seen in that first Thanksgiving. Did the pilgrims know they were pressing forward to build an amazing new order that would provide a beacon of freedom to the world? With their far-reaching vision, perhaps to some degree. Only God, however, could have carried us so far.
Today, however, we must not be shortsighted. We must see the fragility of what God gave us and our extreme vulnerability as a people. It's been too easy to replace gratitude with indifference or even outright ingratitude. The progression downhill is swift – complaining against God and each other; spreading these grievances; hating others not of our tribe; erasing truth; ruining the cherished beauty of our identity as “one nation under God”; and plowing under everything good that former generations built for us.
Doesn’t Romans 1:21 sternly warn of the consequences of ingratitude when it says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts.” It goes on to describe a progression of evils that culminates in God’s wrath.
When the pilgrims landed on these unfriendly shores and endured so much hardship, they kept looking to God and thanking Him. That is our hope, too. May we learn from their example and see how He would use us, not to build a nation, but to restore the one we have broken.
Thank you, Jesus, for Your goodness to our forefathers. Our history has not been all good, but the Pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving showed us the right path forward to build harmony and make a better world. What a beautiful and enduring legacy!
A prayer: “Lord, despite these difficult days of screaming lies, grievances, heartache, loss, mistrust, and so many more destructive forms of wickedness, let us fix our eyes on You. With humble gratitude, we offer You thanksgiving and praise. We ask for Your healing power on our nation, for Your goodness and grace upon us that we may, like the early Pilgrims, leave a beautiful and inspiring legacy of faith.
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” -- 1 Chron. 16:8
May a spirit of gratitude span your Thanksgiving Day and weekend, on through the holy season of Christmas, and on into the New Year. May the Lord bless and keep you, filling you with peace, joy, love, and purpose. Don't be disheartened, but keep praising!
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Thanks and God bless!