Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 WHY WERE THE PILGRIMS THANKFUL?


I asked a question, "Why were the Pilgrims thankful?" seriously. Why were they thankful and why did having dinner with the Native Americans of that time; propitiate into what is now Thanksgiving Day, replete with food, family and fun. Maybe some college football games, and of course the Macys Thanksgiving parade with Mr. Claus. Now there is a new holiday, "Black Friday", coming to a store near you.

"In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November
I am sure I did not know this already,it has been eons since I was in grade school, where all of this information is ususally passed down. I never knew the names of the Native American tribe, but maybe I did. Who were these pilgrims?
"In September 1620, during the reign of King James I, around 100 English men and women–many of them members of the English Separatist Church–set sail for the New World aboard the Mayflower, a three-masted merchant ship. The ship landed on the shores of Cape Cod, in present-day Massachusetts, two months later, and in late December anchored at Plymouth Rock, where they would form the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New England. Though more than half the original settlers died during that grueling first winter, the survivors were able to secure peace treaties with neighboring Native American tribes and build a largely self-sufficient economy within five years."
I found a really good explanation of why the pilgrims were thankful. Just like all stories and holidays and traditions that have been handed down over the years, the real meaning has been distorted. I have always liked Thanksgiving. I remember saying once that I liked it because all you did was eat and be with family and friends. No church or whatever . But I have spoken many things in ignorance.  
I found this wonderful write up in "ALL ABOUT HISTORY .ORG"

Pilgrims: The Escape of Courageous People
The Pilgrims were English Separatists who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. The Pilgrims, fleeing religious persecution, broke away from the Church of England because they felt the Church violated biblical principles of true Christians. Due to persecution and economic distress, they believed they had to break away from the Church of England to form congregations which were more in keeping with divine requirements. Coming out of the recent Reformation, the pilgrims believed the Church of England had not come far enough. The Church was under strict rule of the State so their actions were considered treasonous and these Separatists had to flee their homeland.
Determined and very courageous men and women committed themselves (in all aspects of their lives) to life based on the Bible and a relationship with God. They brought their only known culture and spiritual values to the New World and attempted to establish an improved foundation of English society on an unfamiliar new continent.
Pilgrims: A Matter of Survival
These unprepared new arrivals knew little of how to survive the harsh winters in the New World. After arriving in December of 1620, more than half of them had died of starvation before spring. By the next winter, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto taught the immigrants how to build homes fitting to the climate, when to plant indigenous crops (maize), and how to cook it. But there are other parts of the story that are less known. Governor William Bradford wrote that Squanto was “a special instrument sent by God for their good beyond their expectations…” With gratitude of God sending Squanto and providing the following year’s bounty, the Colonists, Squanto, Chief Massasoit, and the Wampanoag people feasted on the crops' harvest and wild game, giving thanks to God.

These early Plymouth Colony settlers were deeply religious people. To express their gratitude for survival and the harvest appropriately, they looked to the Bible. They read of the Hebrew’s celebrated Feast of Sukkot, also called Feast of the Tabernacles or Feast of Ingathering. This festival was the most joyous of all celebrations, ingathering the people and the harvest. Following the bible verses, they gave all honor to God for providing and for sending the Wampanoag people to help them survive.

Leviticus 23:33-34 says, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD's Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.”’” Verse 39-40 continues “. . .after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days. . .and rejoice before the LORD your God. . .” God required them to build covered structures in remembrance of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt and bringing them out of the desert of Sinai. They were led to a ‘promised land’ as His freed people. This feast commemorates both deliverance and the season’s harvest.


Pilgrims: Giving Thanks

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).
What is religious freedom? Our first "right" as citizens of the United states is this: 
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Ok, we have the peace of mind to know that congress cannot make a law that establishes a "state religion" that forces everyone to worship there. We can exercise our freedom of speech,and the right to assemble peacefully, but attending the churches,mosques,synagogues,etc we want. We can assemble and read our scriptures. We can choose the scriptures we want to read. So this is freedom of "religion".
But wait, there is a better explanation:
John 8:31-32
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Jesus said "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Light". No man comes unto the Father, except through me".
In order to be truely free, free to believe and free to pray, we must abide in "the Word".
So, were the Pilgrims really separatists? They were disciples. They paved the way for other pilgrims, most noteably, those righteous pilgrems who fled Missiouri and walked across the deserts of Utah, and endeavored to establish the true church of Jesus Christ. The Mormons. We all owe those pilgrims a big Thank you.
So what does believing in our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have to do with Thanksgiving? Apparently a lot.
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