In September of 1620, 102 pilgrims boarded the famous English ship known as the Mayflower from England guided by a God-given appetite for unhindered religious freedom. It is said that their intent was to establish a settlement in the Hudson River area when they arrived in the United States. After a 66-day voyage, they made landfall some 150 miles north of their target at the eastern tip of Cape Cod in present-day Massachusetts. After a month, they sailed further west to the mainland at present-day Plymouth. It was here that they decided to establish a new home. The journey was rough as a number of Atlantic storms made the voyage treacherous. Roughly half the pilgrims died of disease and malnutrition.
The pilgrims had left England in September of 1620 and would arrive a year later around November of 1621. The newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration, an event which was later called the “First Thanksgiving”. Edward Winslow was among the group of Pilgrims present at the first Thanksgiving. He describes the Scene:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help besides, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, and many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
Perhaps, they were thankful for the safe journey to America, or maybe they were overwhelmed by the welcome they received from the Wampanoag Indians. As they celebrated the autumn harvest (the first Thanksgiving), they feasted and entertained themselves. Winslow, one of the pilgrim states “…for three days we entertained and feasted.” The tradition had started! For 400 years Americans have gathered with friends and family to celebrate the day the pilgrims arrived with plenty of food. No wonder, 46 million turkeys were killed in last year’s Thanksgiving and the average American consumed 4,500 calories. I guess the feasting tradition has not changed for 400 years.
So, what are we supposed to be thankful for? A story is told of a man who found a barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart. He found that the seeds of discouragement were more numerous than the others, and he learned those seeds could be made to grow almost anywhere. But when Satan was questioned, he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which he could never get them to thrive. “And where is that?” asked the man. Satan replied, “In the heart of a thankful person.”
Let’s be thankful!
Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
NOTE: Please note that Wednesday Prayer meeting has been canceled. Please spend time with your families.
AUTHOR: Pastor Stephen Kabah is the Senior Pastor of Filam International SDA Church in San Antonio Texas. Follow him on Twitter @KabahJr.