“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great. Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserved my life, you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.” Psalm 138
According to History.com: In 1621, the men and women who landed at Plymouth celebrated with the Wampanoag tribe who were native to the area. This original feast honored the help they received from the Wampanoag and celebrated their first successful corn harvest. It continues to be celebrated today. While the day was celebrated by individual colonies and states for over two centuries, in 1863, in the middle of a war that was tearing our nation apart, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that from then on the fourth Thursday in the month of November would be set aside for the people of America to celebrate Thanksgiving. A day we remember all we have to be thankful.
According to capecodtimes.com: the pilgrims did gather for days of thanksgiving but these were times of fasting and prayer that would be broken by the offering of a large meal. History does mention a celebration that was held to mark the first successful harvest but the Wampanoag were not originally invited but showed up when they heard the commotion and thought the area under attack. Finding a celebration going on they decided to stay and brought deer for all to share as part of the meal. Either way, we still celebrate Thanksgiving 399 years later.
As to what food was served at that first Thanksgiving? Well, the original menu served doesn’t really resemble the menu we tend to serve today but the reason remains the same. It is a day for people to gather together to be reminded that we are very blessed and for that we all have much in life to say thank you. This year, in the midst of a pandemic that is forcing us to do things differently, we may not think we have anything to be thankful. I would disagree. Dictionary.com says that Thanksgiving is an act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God. Thanksgiving is what we give to God for all we have.
So, what gifts do we get from God? For starters, we get the very breath we breathe. We get our abilities. We get grace for all the times we make mistakes. We get redemption. We get Jesus. There is in fact nothing we have that we don’t get from God. And so, we do indeed have much to be grateful.
And so, even though this year, your Thanksgiving may look different from past celebrations, I hope you take a moment to say thank you to God for all you have.