This week we as a nation pause to have a day of national thanksgiving. We set aside our daily work and other activities to remember all that we can be thankful for. This past election season has given us plenty of opportunity to be less than thankful, depending on your voting decision. Thanksgiving offers us the time to shift our focus away from the current issues, express thanks for our nation and praise to the King who rules over all nations – Jesus Christ.
The original pilgrims, in the early 1600’s, suffered in their new homeland of New England. Food was scarce, winters were hard, and they only had the items that they brought on the boats. The peaceful relationship forged with the Native Americans lead to sharing food and information about growing their own crops. In 1621, 53 surviving Pilgrims hosted a Harvest Festival and invited the local Native Americans to attend.
The pilgrims moved to North America to exercise their faith in God. One of the pilgrim prayers from the time period was written by George Webb (London) in 1625. The pilgrim is unknown, but this was the essence of his prayer:
“O Lord our God and heavenly Father, which of Thy unspeakable mercy towards us, hast provided meate and drinke for the nourishment of our weake bodies. Grant us peace to use them reverently, as from Thy hands, with thankful hearts: let Thy blessing rest upon these Thy good creatures, to our comfort and sustentation: and grant we humbly beseech Thee, good Lord, that as we doe hunger and thirst for this food of our bodies, so our soules may earnestly long after the food of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Amen” (George Webb, “Short direction for the daily exercise of the Christian,” London 1625. Courtesy of Plimoth Plantation).
This pilgrim’s prayer is a good reminder for us today. We can be thankful to God for the same things that the Pilgrims faced. Some of us do struggle to put food on the table, and some of us do have weak bodies. Our human condition has not changed much in 400 years. This prayer is one that we can still use today.
The pilgrims were thankful to God for the providence of food and drink to sustain their small colony. Many of us, have not experienced true hunger for a significant period of time. Food becomes number one in our thoughts and prayers, when it is lacking. Even though we live in a land of plenty, we should still remember to thank God for his blessing and providence to us each day. In Psalms 111:5, David writes. “He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.” This is a promise that God has given, and he will never forget us.
We should also be thankful for God’s mercy. The Gospel shows our humble position before God, and how we deserve nothing but condemnation. God’s gift of mercy should be an eternal spring of thankfulness in our heart. Ephesians 2:4-5 read, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved.” Let it never be said that we have nothing to be thankful for.
Another response to God’s providence is seen in the Pilgrims’ desire to use their bodies reverently. They wanted to honor the Lord with their service in return for his blessings and sustenance. The pilgrims put action to their thankfulness. They desired to please the Lord by tangible offering love to one another and to their neighbors. This is a great lesson to us. We too should live out our thankfulness to God. We should seek to honor him in our words, and deeds, as a response to his daily care for our needs. I Peter 2: 16 says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
This Thanksgiving take the time to honor the Lord with your prayer of thankfulness. Find a way to worship and serve the Lord by loving and serving others.