In 1621 Governor William Bradford declared that the settlement have a thanksgiving feast to give thanks to God for the harvest. Wanting to invite their Indian friends, they sent an invitation to Chief Massasoit.
The pilgrim men hunted and fished in preparation for the feast. In a day they had plenty of game including wild turkeys. When the Indians arrived the pilgrims were surprised to find that ninety braves had come. Fortunately the Indians were used to celebrating the harvest. They hunted and contributed five deer and more seafood to the feast.
Before eating, the pilgrims prayed praising God and thanking Him for his blessings. The feast lasted for three days and included games that the pilgrims and Indians shared together.
In their first year in the new world the Mayflower passengers survived, but now they were thriving. It was not without hardship, Plymouth had lost fifty percent of their people, but Jamestown in Virginia lost ninety percent.
I am thankful for the wisdom and sacrifices made by our ancestors. In his history, Of Plimoth Plantation, William Bradford said “a great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation (or at least to make some way therunto) for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; Yea, though they should be but even as stepping stones, unto others for the performing of so great a work.”
This year I would like to express an extra thanks for my favorite grandfather through whom I am descended from William Bradford and William Brewster. In the example of his forefathers, he trusted God and took his family to a new place where they began our church and have shown Christ to everyone they meet.
Thanksgiving is not only a part of our American heritage, but our Christian heritage as well. We were being instructed to give thanks long before 1621.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18