“The Pilgrim Thanksgiving”, Part I

"Think About It"

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A hush fell over everyone on this beautiful October day in 1621.  The waves could be heard gently lapping against the shore in Plymouth Bay.  The first group of Englishmen to inhabit New England bow their heads as their elected Governor leads them in a prayer to God through Jesus Christ.  He expresses their thanks to God for all the protection and provision He has granted them over the last year.  Indeed, they were thankful!

They were thankful for the liberty to bow their heads in public and pray to God without the fear of being fined or imprisoned.  They had experienced both.  For years, in England — their homeland — they had been forced to hide in order to worship as they believed they should.  These “Separatists”, as they were called, believed only God had the right to tell a person how He should be worshiped.  The King and established Church leaders thought differently.  The Separatists believed only the Bible could reveal how a person could know God; and they wanted the liberty to practice it as it was written.  In time, they chose to give up their homeland and flee to Holland in order to have the liberty they desired.

In Holland they had found religious liberty, only to find themselves still controlled by Dutch economics.  The Dutch had labor unions that kept any “outsider”, except children, from working in the Holland economy.  This not only made it extremely difficult for the Separatists to earn a living, it also meant that their children would have to work long hours at adult jobs in order for them to survive.  This meant there would not be time for their parents to teach them in their own schools.  Thus, the Separatists would loose their most cherished desire — that of teaching their next generation God’s way of building a nation.  Economic bondage was also creating educational bondage.

They had finally decided to move to America.  In America there would be no one to keep them from building a nation based on Biblical principles.  Though the voyage across the Atlantic would be dangerous, and the Indians in the American wilderness even more dangerous, they decided they would trust God to protect them.  They believed they were working with Him in establishing a Christian Republic here in America, and therefore they could count on Him to sustain them.

The voyage had been dangerous.  They were in storms for six straight weeks; not one hot meal — no fresh air.  They were constantly being tossed back and forth, the stench of their own waste rising from the bottom parts of the ship. Yet, they never failed to, as a group, worship God morning and evening each day.

Why were they willing to suffer such hardships?  Because they wanted their children, you and me, to experience the liberty to be all God had created us to be.  They were doing it for us!  And God did bring them safely across.

Once here, they finally found a piece of ground to settle on that was very favorably situated.  Later, they would learn that four years before a mysterious plague had wiped out the warlike Indian tribe that had lived on this spot.  They believed God had provided this place for them to start their Christian Republic—one in which there would be protection for the God-given rights of all men.

And now here they are, on this October day, along with their Indian friends, giving thanks to the God Who had worked miracles to make this new community possible.

Are you as thankful as they were for liberty?  The Bible says,

“In everything give thanks…”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This Thanksgiving Day, will you gather your family around you and offer the God of the Pilgrims thanks for Liberty in Christ—and for what civil liberty you do still enjoy?  Will you offer Jesus Christ thanks because — He is your own God?

Think about it; because if you don’t, someone else will do your thinking for you–
and for your children!  And you won’t like what that brings to you.  I’m Don Pinson this has been Think About It.