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A Pilgrim's Diary

NOTE:  The diary below is fictional but the facts of the settlement, death of 46, Cole Hill, the bontiful harvest, Edward Winslows quote, and the Thanksgiving of 1621 is true as recorded by the Encyclopedia Britannica. That festival became the precedent for America's modern annual national holiday - first proclaimed nationally by President Abraham Lincoln (November 26, 1863). In 1941 Congress passed a resolution making the last Thursday of November a permanent national legal holiday for Thanksgiving.

December 22, 1620:  I and  17  others just returned to Provincetown to lead the others back to the suitable place we have found up the coast.  Alas, we will have to spend the Winter aboard the ship, as it is too cold stay ashore.  The area is called Plymouth. May God truly bless this our new home.

December 26, 1620:  We arrived this morning just after daybreak. Our eager anticipation must be quenched but hope for our religious freedom restored and we know the God of our fathers will be with us as we serve him.  I looked up the banner that waves over us onboard ship and a tear came to my eye as I read it again "In God we Trust".  Agatha coughed all last night, I hope she isn't ill.

March  1621:  We bade farewell to Mayflower yesterday and today we buried Agatha and 46 others atop Cole's Hill  Winter was harsh and bitter to both body and Spirit but our God has not forgotten us.  We will plant seed on these graves and give thanks to God for the increase sure to come.   An Indian named Somoset, confronted us today.  His tribe also suffered great loss during the Winter. We will work together with him towards a bountiful harvest.

The following autumn, December 13, 1621, the Pilgrims and the tribe of the Indian, Someset, feasted and thanked God for the tremendous harvest in a 3 day feast and worship service. Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving in these words:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as... served the company almost a week... [M]any of the Indians [came] amongst us and... their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT."

Were they thankful only for harvest?  Or were they thankful to each other? By their lives and testimony in history we can see it was both, directed to God, and despite adversity.

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Surrender becomes Thanksfulness

Dr. Archibald Brown, a noted English evangelist of a generation ago, often preached a wonderful sermon on the text, "When the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also."  He would point out that it was true not only of the Temple economy, but of the sanctified life. It is only when everything is laid upon the altar of consecration to Jesus Christ that the fullness of joy will fill the heart and break out in thanksgiving and praise to God.

Dr.  Brown preached this sermon in one of our large cities.  He was to leave for another meeting the next day.  As he stepped onto the station platform he was met by a smiling porter who greeted him with the striking statement.  "Dr. Brown, I live in the country where the music is."  Dr. Brown did not at first get the connection and in amazement said, "My friend, I do not understand you."  Then the porter said:  "I was in your church service last night.  I heard you preach from that beautiful text about the song of the Lord.  I want to say that I know all about it, for I live on the hilltop where the music is."  ( "Choice Illustrations"  W. W. Clay   pg. 19-20).

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A Politically Correct Thanksgiving Report

   I heard about a little fourth-grader who stood up to give a report concerning the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. Here's how he began:

   The pilgrims came here seeking
   freedom of you know what.
   When they landed, they gave
   thanks to you know who.
   Because of them, we can worship
   each Sunday, you know where.

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Thanksgiving Facts

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is an annual day of thanks for the blessings of the past year, observed on the fourth Thursday in November in each of the states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  It is a historical, national, and religious holiday that began with the Pilgrims.  After the survival of their first colony through the bitter winter, and the gathering of the harvest, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony issued a thanksgiving proclamation in the autumn of 1621. This first thanksgiving lasted three days, during which the Pilgrims feasted on wild turkey and venison with their Indian guests.

Days of thanksgiving were celebrated sporadically until, on Nov. 26, 1789, President Washington issued a proclamation of a nation-wide day of thanksgiving.  He made it clear that the day should be one of prayer and giving thanks to God.  It was to be celebrated by all religious denominations, a circumstance that helped to promote a spirit of common heritage.

Credit for establishing this day as a national holiday is usually given to Sarah J. Hale, editor and founder of the Ladies' Magazine (from 1828) in Boston.  Her editorials in the magazine and letters to President Lincoln urging the formal establishment of a national holiday of thanksgiving resulted in Lincoln's proclamation in 1863, designating the last Thursday in November as the day.  Succeeding presidents annually followed his example, except for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1939 proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a week earlier -- on the fourth but not the last Thursday -- to encourage holiday shopping.  In 1941, Congress adopted a joint resolution setting the date on the fourth Thursday.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner takes place yearly at the White House and in almost every American home.  Roast turkey and pumpkin pie are among the symbols of this festival.  An ancient harvest symbol, the cornucopia, or "horn of plenty," has also been attached to Thanksgiving.  Schools and businesses close for this day of family reunion and national, rather than individual, giving of thanks.

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Erma Bombeck on Thanksgiving

An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cnaner of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finaly said, "I don't know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!"  The kid is right.

Erma Bombeck, Redbook, October, 1992.

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Why Only One Leper Returned Thanks

Why did only one cleansed leper return to thank Jesus? The following are nine suggested reasons why the nine did not return:

One waited to see if the cure was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later.
One decided that he had never had leprosy.
One said he would have gotten well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, "O, well, Jesus didn't really do anything."
One said, "Any rabbi could have done it."
One said, "I was already much improved."

- Charles L. Brown, Content The Newsletter Newsletter, June, 1990, Page 3.

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Truly Thankful

Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence.  The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn't make it. Terrified, the one shouted to the other, "Put up a prayer, John. We're in for it!"

John answered, "I can't. I've never made a public prayer in my life."

"But you must!" implored his companion. "The bull is catching up to us."

"All right," panted John, "I'll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: 'O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.'".

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Turkey Facts for Thanksgiving

In the United States turkey is a $2.67 billion industry.

The average American gobbles about 18.3 pounds of turkey per year.

In the United States, white meat is preferred by a 2-1 ratio.

Top-heavy breeders are twice the size they were 35 years ago.

Ninety percent of the turkeys sold worldwide are the offspring of a few thousand superbirds that are owned by just three corporations that control the world market.

Turkeys have been bred with breasts so swollen with white meat that they are too clumsy to mate and often cannot stand.  As a result, almost all commercial turkeys are the result of artificial insemination.

"Scientists get it off their chests" The Arizona Republic, November 19, 1995 A31.

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While I was teaching at a Christian college, a talented young man pushed his way into my life. He needed one more course to graduate, so he decided that I should give him an independent study in writing. He would be everlastingly grateful if I would just do this--even though it required extra work on my part.  The college dean agreed to the idea because of the young man's abilities.

What a headache! He skipped appointments, missed deadlines, and rejected my evaluations of his writing. He even turned in the last assignment just hours before graduation.

After all that was done for him, you'd think he would have been grateful. But he didn't express one word of thanks on graduation day nor in all the years since.

I don't ever want to be that kind of person. I would rather be like David. When he was in deep trouble, he called out to the Lord for help (Ps. 28:1-2).  Afterward, he remembered to give God thanks for delivering him (vv.6-7). In fact, David's heart of gratitude toward the Lord is evident throughout the book of Psalms.

What about us? Do we have an ungrateful response to the Lord's graciousness? Or are we, like David, unceasingly expressing our thanks to God for His goodness? --DCE

Our Daily Bread, November 26th 1995

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The Lost Art of Thankfulness

Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. Warren Wiersbe illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians. He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers.  In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

Our Daily Bread, February 20th 1994

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Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Submitted by Eferen Hurdle

Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me `to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be--That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions--to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

---- George Washington

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Everyday Thanksgiving

Submitted by Wilma J Stirl

For those of us who are experiencing "bad days" as of late,
     here is something to re-direct our woe's.


     Even though I clutch my blanket and growl
     when the alarm rings, thank you, Lord, that I can
     hear.  There are many who are deaf.

     Even though I keep my eyes closed against
     the morning light as long as possible, thank you,
     Lord, that I can see.  Many are blind.

     Even though I huddle in my bed and put off
     rising, thank you Lord, that I have the strength to
     rise.  There are many who are bedridden.

     Even though the first hour of my day is
     hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and
     tempers are short, my children are so loud
     thank you, Lord, for my family.
     There are many who are lonely.

     Even though our breakfast table never looks
     like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at
     times unbalanced, thank you, Lord, for the food
     we have.  There are many who are hungry.

     Even though the routine of my job is often
     monotonous, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity
     to work.  There are many who have no job.

     Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate
     from day to day and wish my circumstances were
     not so modest, thank you, Lord, for life.

Our Daily Bread, February 20th 1994

The Day the Sun Didn't Shing

In 1883, It is said that in New England the Sun didn't rise! The people awoke to an eerie darkness. They went outside to do their chores in stony silence. No rooster crowed, no birds chirping, none of the usual sounds of a new day. At the very start, people began to gather in small groups to question what was happening, to wonder and discuss what was taking place. Slowly, people began to make their way to the Churches. They say that by twelve noon every Church in New England was filled to overflowing with people on their knees crying out to God. There were cries for mercy, people begging for forgiveness and others confessing their sins. They say that there were few people who didn't pray the day the sun didn't rise. The Churches were full late into the night.

As the next morning neared, great crowds began to gather on the hilltops and the high places near their homes and churches. People were staring toward the eastern horizon. Every eye was fixed on that point where the sky touched the land. Every eye watching, hoping to catch a glimmer of the first rays of the Sun. As the sun began to come up over the horizon, people began to shout and yell praise to God, they clapped, danced and rejoiced because the Sun shined on the land again. As if in one voice, they began to praise the Lord for the sunlight, the warmth and the joy of God's new day.

They had no idea that on the Island nation of Indonesia, the sleeping giant of a volcano, Krakatoa, had come to life. They had no idea that this great mountain exploded sent a huge cloud of dust and ash into the upper atmosphere. This black cloud would be carried around the world by the jet stream. It was said to cover whole regions, covering the sky from horizon to horizon. Few people had any idea that a volcano, half way around the world, could create such a cloud that could block out the Sun. Yet for most of those people that the very first time they ever thanked God for the warmth and wonder of the Sun.

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