“Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 CSB
The Pilgrims were people who were trying to find a new way of life in an unknown land, where they could worship God the way they wanted to worship God, not the way the Church of England told them they had too. The Pilgrims, also known as Puritans because they wanted to purify the church, wanted to return to the ways of the early church that we see in Acts 2:42-47 NIV. This group of people from Nottinghamshire, England first moved to the Dutch Netherlands, where they could practice religious freedom. They felt during the 11-12 years that they stayed there they were in danger of losing their English identity. The work they found there, cloth trade, carpenters, printers, was hard and laborious. With the threat of war looming over their head between the Dutch and Spain, they decided to move again. This time to America, where they could start a farming community. I’m thankful for these brave men and women who pioneered a new way of life for all of us here in America.
On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers boarded the Mayflower and headed to America. 66 days later they landed in New England. Only 52 people survived the first year, often 2-3 people would die a day in the midst of winter. They found an abandoned indian community in Plymouth and moved there in December. They lived on the ship as they built their new home. They met the Natives in the spring and quickly negotiated a way to live at peace with them. Their new relationship with the Pokanoket Wampanoa tribe gave them their first lesson in farming. One of their tribe members moved in with the Pilgrim’s and taught them how to grow corn. At the end of that first harvest, in the fall, they shared a three day festival of Thanksgiving with their new friends. Today this festival is known as the First Thanksgiving.
These Pilgrim’s led the way for the faith we have today. Their three day festival was a celebration of life, thanking God for allowing them to survive. Our three day celebration has turned into a shopping spree for Christmas presents. In this time of Thanksgiving, let’s remember the sacrifices that were made for us to enjoy this holiday. Let’s be thankful for the food we have, which we did not have to grow, in some instances, we don’t even have to cook. Our lives today are so far from what the lives of the Pilgrims were, it’s hard for us to understand because we didn’t live it. God moved in their hearts, He directed their paths, and He led them to the shores of America.
I’m thankful for the Pilgrims today. What are you thankful for?