Summary: Thanksgiving is a powerful thing, breaking Satan’s hold on our lives. Series preached leading up to Thanksgiving Day, but good for anytime.

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15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:15-17 (NIV)


In 1604 King James came to power in England. We hear his name often, as the most trusted version of the English Bible was translated during his reign – the King James Version. He was relatively tolerant of other religious opinions, except those that openly criticized the Church of England.

Secret congregations began to form, as dissenters left their persecuting churches. One such group was formed not too far from Sherwood Forest, in a small village of Nottinghamshire called Scrooby. The authorities found out about them, and they decided to flee to Holland, where they had heard they could practice their faith freely. In 1608, they made it to Amsterdam, and in 1609 they migrated en-masse to Leiden, Holland.

The majority of this group, led by Pastor John Robinson, were still in Leiden in 1620. Joining with a few followers yet in England, they decided to travel to the “New World”. The group in Holland hired a ship called the Speedwell, and another ship was hired in London – called the Mayflower. They planned to meet in Southampton, England, and sail together to Northern Virginia. They met in Southampton on July 22, but the Speedwell had been leaking on the journey from Holland, so they spent the better part of a week patching her up. They finally set sail on Aug 5, but the Speedwell was leaking again, so they stopped in Dartmouth for repairs.

On Aug 21, after the Speedwell was patched again – the two ships set out for the Americas. But about 300 miles out to see, the Speedwell began to leak again, and it was determined that the ship was not sea-worthy. The two ships returned to Plymouth, England, where they abandoned the Speedwell. The cargo was transferred onto the Mayflower, and while several of the frustrated Pilgrims simply went home, most of them crammed themselves onto what was now a very crowded boat.

Finally, on Sept 6, the Mayflower departed Plymouth, England, and headed for America. She was carrying 102 passengers, including 3 pregnant women. One baby was born on the voyage, but another young boy died of pneumonia. On November 9, they sited Cape Cod – after 66 days at sea. Because of the delays caused by the leaking Speedwell, many of them had spent the better part of four months on the boat.

Arriving much later than expected, they erected hasty shelters. But they simply were not prepared for the harsh New England winter, and nearly one-half of this group died before spring. But persevering in prayer, and aided by the friendly Indians – those remaining reaped a bountiful harvest that next summer. The grateful Pilgrims declared a three-day feast in December of 1621 to thank God and celebrate with their Indian friends. It was America’s first Thanksgiving.

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