Thanksgiving – The Christian Holiday


It is august, 1620. 120 English men, woman and children are awaiting entry onto the ship that would take them to the new world. It was an exciting time and it was a time of uncertainty. The two ships were the Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Speedwell was a poorly well weathered thing, seeing many battles along its history. The Mayflower while newer was not much better off. It was bulky and seemed to fight the winds.

The journey would be rough. Winter at sea is not an easy time to be on the waters. But they made it. But why would someone take such a perilous journey? Fame, fortune, oppritunity? Sort of but its another kind. You see the people on board those two merchant vessels were Brownists. Something we do not here today. They were Christians who followed after the teachings of Robert Browne.

Robert Browne’s teachings were only from the Bible. He believed the Bible to be infallible. He also believed in local church supremacy. Meaning that local churches should decide how they want to interpret scripture. They originally fought along side King Henry when he went to battle against the Catholic church. Seeing the catholic churches doctrine as corrupt and away from scripture.

However once King Henry took control of the newly formed Anglican church he ill regarded what God said and rather did this his own way. Instead of getting rid of the catholic control they simply took on another ruler in the King.

They opposed the King, passing out pamphlets and speaking out against the King. Needless to say, leaving England for a New World that had no authorities sounded quite nice.

There journey began with tragedy, not too long into their sailing the Speedwell was taking on water. So they turned back. They were able to patch it up but alas a second time it would need repairs and so they once again turned back. At this time the people had become tired of the Speedwells setbacks and crammed onto the Mayflower leaving 20 people behind with the Speedwell. The plan was for the Speedwell to come in the following year with more people.

However, the real journey had begun for the Mayflower. In the middle of the sea a rising tempest so powerful it cracked the ship. It seemed as if the powers of darkness were against them. Nevertheless they had become bankrupt because of these set backs. Failure was not an option for them however. They reinforced the broken parts of the ship and with prayer, carried on.

They arrived, although with setbacks still. The winter currents made it near impossible for them to hit land where they would like. Instead they would drift towards Massachusetts.

They immediately went to work on the Mayflower compact, a document that would have them decide the issues by vote. They all signed the contract together fundamentally forming the first American constitution. Sadly the winter would prove hard. Disease would overtake many of the pilgrims. The land was harsh but nothing of the natives.

They came with arrows and axes attacking the settlers out of the forests. The pilgrims tried to fight the natives but never saw them. When the battling was over they went to look and found no bodies. Spooked, the pilgrims quickly picked up and left.

They sailed again until coming upon Plymouth rock. They found a land that was ripe for the taking… accept there were bodies all over the place. The Wampanoag were originally the inhabitants of the land. Sadly they had died. The settlers would meet such a fate themselves if the did not do something, they had to act quickly. They would begin construction immediately. First thing they built was a hospital for the sick. They would build there town around it.

They braved the winter and completed the town but at a price. There were now only 47 of the settlers left. They fortified their town for they knew soon raiding parties would come. However, instead of raiding parties, they instead would have a native walk into the center of their village and in English would greet them and ask for a beer to drink.

Naturally the settlers were rather astonished by this. Turns out the man had known the English through fishing parties. He would tell them of the English things he had come to enjoy but warned them also that other tribes would not be so friendly towards them. This man was known as Samoset. Samoset brought another man to them. This was Squanto. The last survivor of the lands the pilgrims now inhabited. Not only that, but he was captured by slavers as a child. Raised in Spain and England, he spoke fluent English.

However, Squanto was not alone. An army of natives came prepared to destroy the small colony. Squanto however talked them out of fighting and got the two people to talk to one another. Seeing the power of the settlers weapons, the tribe of natives agreed to help them if they would lend them their strength. You see this tribe was beset on all sided with enemy tribes. They had a lot of territory but no way to defend it. The pilgrims agreed.

The natives taught them how to farm properly in this new land. Many of the vegetation was different. While the pilgrims set about making peace with the surrounding tribes and making war with others. When the fall came they had an abundant harvest.

They looked at all that had happened to them and were thankful to Lord for what had come to pass. The feast lasted three days. They celebrated with the natives. The real meaning of Thanksgiving is to be thankful to God, for preserving us when the odds seem to be against us.

On this Thanksgiving, spend it with the ones you love. Spend it and be thankful for all you have.

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