I can remember walking along the corridor outside the first-grade classroom of school and having memories of my own elementary school days rush through my mind. I remembered the weeks leading to the Thanksgiving Holiday being filled with stories of the Pilgrim and Native Americans as well as coloring pictures of cornucopia, leaves, turkeys and that first Thanksgiving dinner. However, the pictures in the corridor stirred up more than nostalgia; they caused me to re-think the events of those early settlers and their new-found companions; to take a good look at what really took place. With this re-evaluation, I am inspired by their overwhelming trust, their support and acceptance of one another, and willingness to put differences aside. It was through these actions that they formed the earliest of American communities and perhaps we, so many years later, can learn from their example.
You might ask why we should be so inspired! The following brief account of the origin of that first Thanksgiving might shed some light:
The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 and their destination was the New World. Although they may have been filled with uncertainty and peril, this New World offered both civil and religious liberty. Having arrived in what is known today as Massachusetts, they gathered in prayer, thanking God for His guidance throughout their journey. But the months ahead were filled with starvation, sickness and death due to the harsh winter. However, in early spring their new neighbors, the Native Indians, assisted the Pilgrims to prepare the soil, teaching them so they might reap a bountiful harvest the following summer. In thanksgiving for the harvest the Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, to thank God and to celebrate with their new friends.
This annual day of thanks should be, for us, much more than parades, turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie; much more than gathering as family and friends. It is a day for us to give thanks and pray that we too, like those Pilgrims and Native Americans, will form a community that reflects grateful hearts, cooperation, acceptance, and support…a community that reflects our oneness in Christ.
This Thanksgiving I pray that we may be inspired to look beyond our differences to recognize our oneness; that it be a day when we trust more deeply in the God who loves us beyond all our imagining; that it be a day when we reach across the table, both literally and figuratively, to embrace and welcome one another.
May God continue to bless each of us and may our hearts be filled with gratitude for His Love and the love we share with one another.
God Bless You,