Three hundred ninety-five years after the first Thanksgiving, today is a great day to be grateful.
Remember that release of calm on November 8th, when the long national argument was finally over? This Thursday, let’s pause again to give thanks, at the very least, that the election is over.
Along with our peaceful transition of power, one of America’s great gifts is a day dedicated to be grateful for what brings us together.
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national holiday for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” for the “gracious gifts of the Most High God” for “blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies”. And this he proclaimed during a civil war!
So who made America great in the first place?
If you consider America’s foundational story of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, my answer is crazy kings, courageous Christians, friendly foreigners, all covered by the great grace of God.
Why did the Pilgrims come to America? They were facing persecution for refusing to believe as their king demanded, overreaching his political powers into the religious lives of the people.
Courageous Christians fled to find freedom of worship. In 1620, the Mayflower carried 102 people across the Atlantic Ocean. Over two months later near present day Cape Cod, 100 passengers arrives alive.
Many died that first winter. But American native people helped many pilgrims survive and find enough food to plant their own crops in spring of 1621. That fall they celebrated the harvest in what is now known as our first Thanksgiving Feast in thanks to God and good friends.
Samoset and Massasoit are American names that should be remembered alongside ones like William Bradford, and Eduard Winslow, who courageously crossed the Atlantic to live in peace and freedom.
These people settled a land that 150 years later became the United States of America. It was born through a decade’s bloody battles of the Revolutionary War. In our Declaration of Independence, our people appealed to a higher power than kings; “their Creator”. By God, declaration, and defense of their rights, they did “dissolve the political bands” of tyrannical rule.
Today we have more freedom, communication, entertainment, food, drink and shelter than our ancestors could have dreamed. We have far more luxuries than the licentious leaders they fled and fought to find freedom. We cross oceans in hours. Roads unite our continent’s coasts. Cities boom. Buildings tower.
Let us gratefully remember our Maker. He made America great. Let’s remember to give Him thanks for our great American history and hope-filled future.
Out of the American wilderness walked a native named Samoset to meet the Pilgrims. Their silent astonishment was broken by his perfect English: “Welcome, have you got any beer?” They did not.
Look how far we’ve come. Happy Thanksgiving!