Summary: Today, it appears the Thanksgiving season is open season to make merchandise of the Gospel with the purpose of making money. To use the Thanksgiving season as an prelude to touching the Holy things of God with unholy hands is an insult to the Lord who has given us the blessings we enjoy
Understanding Our For Fathers Heart
Introduction: The tradition of Thanksgiving in America and it's focus on God and His blessing date way back, such as: "The main thrust of celebrating Thanksgiving here in America, is from the familiar story of the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving celebration of 1621." (David Barton - 11/2008)
Today, it appears the Thanksgiving season is open season to make merchandise of the Gospel with the purpose of making money. To use the Thanksgiving season as an prelude to touching the Holy things of God with unholy hands is an insult to the Lord who has given us the blessings we enjoy. Could it be? Is it time? Does the church today need to follow the example of Christ? In His dealing with the money changers in the temple when they used the sacrifices found in Scripture to make a fortune for themselves.
Proposition: I would propose to you, the Word of God holds the foundational truths for expressing a thankful life. Psalm 107:21, "Let them thank the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind." Understanding, the heartbeat of the first Thanksgiving lays the foundation for a thanksgiving season that glorifies the Lord.
Interrogative Sentence: To whom did the early Pilgrims give thanks to?
The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months they braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began to build shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.) After enduring a harsh winter they met an English speaking Indian, Samoset, whom learnt English from fisherman and traders. One week later Samoset showed up with Squanto, who chose to live with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, described Squanto as "A special instrument sent of God for [our] good... and never left [us] till he died." (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 95)
As one continues to look at the period of the first Thanksgivings in America - we see in the summer of 1621, the Pilgrims reaped a huge harvest. Pilgrim Edward Winslow affirmed this by writing, "God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn"; "by the goodness of God, we are... far from want." (Mourt's Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth, Henry Martyn Dexter, editor (Boston: Jim Kimball Wiggin, 1865; reprint of 1622 original), p. 133. See also William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), p. 95, quoting from a letter of Pilgrim Edward Winslow to George Morton of London, written on December 21, 1621)
The pilgrims declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends, whom showed them how to survive in the New England land. America's first Thanksgiving Festival involved Ninety Wampanoag Indians and fifty Pilgrims feasting for three days. They ate shellfish, lobster, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods. The Pilgrims and Indians engaged in races, wrestling matches, and other athletic events and prayer. (David Barton - 11/2008)
In 1623, there was another hardship, a prolonged drought, which if continued would have led to another period of starvation and death, much like they experienced in the winter of 1620. Governor Bradford, called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God's direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after time of prayer - and to the great amazement of the Indians who witnessed the scene - clouds appeared in the sky giving a gentle steady rain upon the land. (David Barton - 11/2008)
• Governor Bradford explained: "It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing." (William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 142)
The drought had been broken; the fall harvest was one in which caused another reason to celebrate Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim's practice of designating official times of Thanksgiving spread to different colonies which became an annual tradition. (DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton,, Mifflin & Co, 1895), pp. 87-90) David Barton wrote, "And just as the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, with prayer and fasting, so, too, did the all New England Colonies develop a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall."