The Heritage of Thanksgiving
Like the Psalmist's
repetition, "for his mercy endureth forever," found in every verse of
Psalm 136, the Thanksgiving
observance of the pilgrims has reached down to us through the generations.
The sacredness of that observance is pointed up by one who asks, "For what were they thankful? A few miserable huts to live in, a few wild turkeys to eat, a few pitiful patches of maize planted on the edge of the wilderness." In the bitter cold of that first winter famine, cold and disease decimated their company from 120 to 25. Of the sixteen or twenty women, there remained only five. God was the center and sole concern of that brave little company of pioneers.
Solemnity rather than boisterous pursuit of pleasure marked that day of thanksgiving. Having fled from the empty pageantry and meaningless ecclesiastical celebrations of religious observance, they had come together after ten days of prayer to proclaim a day of thanksgiving to God. With joy of heart and in a spirit of love and gratitude for providential care, they offered sacrifices of praise in spirit and in truth.
Two hundred and forty years ago, in July 1623 they met to hear the first proclamation of Thanksgiving Day. Significant then because it declared their complete dependance upon Almighty God, it is equally significant to us in this year of testing of our nation's integrity of faith in God and His Holy Word. May God grant that our children's children will receive the same faithful heritage of thanksgiving, "for his mercy endureth forever."
Carl L. Holmberg, pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Brockton, Mass.
This account was copied with permission from Bethel College and Seminary. It was taken from the November 25, 1963 issue of The Standard, the publication for the Baptist General Conference.
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