Sermon Illustrations

Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony

Think of that little band of people who crossed the Atlantic in a boat that was 26 feet by 112 feet and landed on the New England coast during a bitter cold winter. At times that first year the daily ration of those who were well was only five grains of corn. In early New England, it was the custom at Thanksgiving time to place five kernels of corn at every plate as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was to depleted that only five kernels of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrim Fathers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, sufferings, and hardships through which they had safely passed -- a fitting hardship that made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They wanted to keep alive the memory of that sixty-three-day trip taken in the tiny Mayflower. They desired to keep alive the thought of that stern and rock-bound coast, its inhospitable welcome, and the first terrible winter which took such a toll of lives.

They did not want their descendants to forget that on that day in which their rations was reduced to five kernels of corn, only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and that nearly half their members lay in the windswept graveyard on the hill.

They worked seven years to repay London the loan for their trip. That was before the days of credit cards. After suffering every kind of hardship, they had a harvest of 21 acres of corn and in the fall of 1621, they immediately offered thanks to God for His blessings. This little group led by Gov. William Bradford marched triumphantly through the cornfields singing, "The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein." Then they sat down to a meal in gladness and joy. They were giving thanks to God no matter what.

Likewise, Paul’s advice to the church at Thessalonica was "Be joyful" ("Rejoice always"-v. 16), "Be prayerful" ("Pray w/o ceasing"-v. 17) & "Be thankful" ("In everything give thanks"-v. 18).

From a sermon by Gerald Steffy, Thankful No Matter What, 10/14/2009

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