In 1608, a congregation of disgruntled English Protestants from the village of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, left England and moved to Leyden, a town in Holland. These “Separatists” did not want to pledge allegiance to the Church of England, which they believed was nearly as corrupt and idolatrous as the Catholic Church it had replaced. They began to fear persecution even there, so after 12 years, in 1620, they decided to sail to the New World where they could worship freely and develop an English culture.
The Separatists, who founded the Plymouth Colony referred to themselves as “Saints,” not “Pilgrims.” The use of the word “Pilgrim” to describe this group did not become common until the colony’s bicentennial.
Originally, there was a second ship called the Speedwell. It took on water twice. They had to return to port. This delayed the crossing for nearly three months. Instead of crossing the ocean in June, they wound up battling the storms and cold of late fall. They departed on September 6th and arrived on November 11th, 1620.The Mayflower first landed at the tip of Cape Cod in what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts. They crossed the Cape Cod Bay and landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11,1620.
The Pilgrims spent the first winter living on the ship where 50 out of 102 died.
At the end of the next summer, the Plymouth colonists celebrated their first successful harvest with a three-day festival of thanksgiving.
The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was an expression of gratitude, but not just for an abundance of food. They were grateful to be alive. In the fall of 1621, they shared a feast of venison, seafood, groundnuts, squashes, beans, popped corn, and berries to celebrate the harvest. It wasn’t quite the turkey and stuffing we think of today.
We still commemorate this feast and remember it as the first Thanksgiving. It probably did not occur on the fourth Thursday in November like it does today, but sometime between late September and mid-November 1621.
There are an estimated 10 million living Americans and 35 million people around the world who are descended from the original passengers on the Mayflower.
Four hundred years later, what are we thankful for?
Do we demonstrate an “attitude of gratitude” toward God for the repetitive things?
Another day of life
The beautiful colors of the fall
The abundance we have to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving
Can you make your own list and show your appreciation to God daily?
More importantly, as Christians, are we truly grateful and thankful for the unfathomable things in life?
A clear conscience. Christ died on the cross and paid for our sins. Therefore, even though we are imperfect, we can ask for forgiveness. Our shortcomings are forgotten by God. It is difficult to comprehend this gift.
God created us because he wants a relationship with us. What an amazing thought that God is pleased if we give Him our time and attention.
Jesus wants us to be joyful. Yes, life can be difficult and hard. Yes, it can be very difficult to understand why God does things the way He does. Jesus did make it clear though, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with joy. Yes, your joy will overflow.” John 15:11. Are we thankful for this promise? Do we spend time trying to understand how this can happen in our lives?
Are we grateful and take advantage of the opportunity to have a direct, personal, joyful relationship with God?
By the way, the “Saints” actually wore colorful clothes- not all black!