True Thanksgiving is More

November-December 2010

By W. Howard Coop, KCCH

At the end of the first harvest in the new world, the Pilgrims at Plymouth along with Chief Massassoit and a party of 90 friendly Indians joined in a celebratory act that consisted of “three days of prayer and feasting.”

The Mayflower passengers that signed the agreement that became known as the “Mayflower Compact” stated they had come to the New World to escape religious persecution and “for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian faith.” They endured a stormy voyage across the Atlantic Ocean at the worst possible time of the year and later participated in that festival to give thanks to Almighty God. The Pilgrims were thankful they had survived a stormy voyage, endured a terrible winter, and had been blessed with a good harvest that provided them with food.

Food was scarce during that terrible winter, their first in the new world. Hezekiah Butterworth, an American author of the last half of the nineteenth century, passed on information that the daily ration of food was five grains of parched corn. During that winter, 47 members of the original 102 died, and at any one time, only “six or seven were in proper condition to attend the sick and bury the dead” on Cole’s Hill. Yet, in spite of the hardships they endured and the sufferings they experienced, those sturdy Pilgrims at Plymouth, after inviting the friendly natives to join them, paused to celebrate and to give thanks to God for his providential care.

Lest we forget, this is the heritage the Pilgrims passed on to us.

A national holiday, celebrated with a festive turkey feast, commemorates it, but the heritage of those sturdy Pilgrims reminds us that true thanksgiving is more. While surrounded by an abundance of things which are the accouterments of an affluent society, we must not forget that back of these things there is the providential care of Almighty God, and like the Pilgrims, we are recipients of that care.
To see life from this perspective is to see that God’s mercies, new every morning and fresh every evening, are more than we can number. So, gratitude rises in the heart, and we are thankful.