This Thanksgiving, are you a house united or divided? Is there unforgiveness and pride that need to be dealt with? Are there walls that need to be repaired? Feeling like you don’t know where to begin or how to repair it? Ask the One who helped build a nation using those Pilgrim Saints 400 years ago, who helped make a way for them where there seemed to be no way. Not in our own strength, but by His mighty strength.
Jim and I visited Plymouth, MA this summer (pics of the current harbor and “Plymouth Rock” below). I have always loved and been inspired by the story of the first Pilgrims, the Mayflower journey and the birth of our nation.
As we stood this summer on the shoreline of what were possibly the first places that some of those Pilgrims stood and looked out, I couldn’t help but think about all the hardships and sacrifices they endured while doing what they believed God had called them to do. I wondered if I would have been able to endure all that they had (doubtful I would have even made it passed the ship – no dramamine or showers on the boat😂). I was inspired further to continue my research of my beloved story and found some new surprises as I went along!
The Mayflower’s 400th anniversary is next year. 102 Pilgrims or “Saints” (is what they were called back in their day), set sail from England to America on a mission to establish a new place to live, where they were free to live and worship the Heavenly Father the way they believed to be true.
Some of the origins of our nation were built upon these courageous seekers’ motivation for worshipping freedoms. They believed they were doing what God had instructed them to do, and trusted Him in their journey. It was never easy for any of them. There were men, women, and children on this journey that all needed to be cared for. But through it all, they remained faithful and continued to do God’s work even on their hardest days.
The First Thanksgiving Blended:
Although they arrived to America in November, they did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving that year. In fact, they spent that first winter trying to survive the harsh, bitter winter, fighting a variety of sickness, coming against some opposition from some of the Native Americans, and basic day to day struggling due to lack of food and shelter. By the time spring came, only 53 of those original 102 Pilgrim Saints had survived.
With only 53 Saints remaining of the 102, families merged and blended together as a matter of survival. It was essential from the start of their Mayflower voyage, and to those that survived that first harsh winter, to all work together for the common good and the health of their families.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated almost a year after their arrival. They had made peace with the Native Americans, and the Native Americans had shown them how to plant productive crops and shared their resources with them. The Pilgrim Saints wanted to celebrate all that God had done for them, so they threw a “thanksgiving” feast and invited 90 of their new Native American friends. 143 people gathered together for three days for the first Thanksgiving (blended families, traditional families, widows/widowers, single people, and two distinct different cultures). They gave praise and glory to God for their new freedoms and provisions. They enjoyed fellowship and games together, while feasting on their bountiful crops that they produced, and deer, fish, and fowl.
One of the most important scriptures that the Pilgrim Saints knew to be crucial for their survival and peace in their homes and nation, was to believe and live out Matthew 12:25:
“But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to naught, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” *Geneva Version
Thanksgiving Fast Forward:
Two famous presidents declared that in honor of the first Thanksgiving and going forward, that our nation and homes should come together and set aside differences, by honoring a national set day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”
*George Washington in 1789 declared a day of thanksgiving and prayer and to celebrate the unity of our new nation and our U.S. Constitution.
*In 1863, Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War, suggested a national day of thanksgiving and prayer to bring our nation peacefully back together with one heart. He wrote a Thanksgiving proclamation to our nation.
Steadfast faith ripple effects:
With God’s design, strength and grace, and the Pilgrim Saints’ steadfast faith, a nation was built upon. Now, there are an estimated 10 million living Americans and 35 million people around the world who are descendents from the original passengers of the Mayflower. Fun facts: Some of those descendants from those Mayflower passengers include several of our American presidents such as Adams, Garfield, Grant, Coolidge, Roosevelt, and the Bushs.’ Other famous Americans such as Julia Child, Clint Eastwood, Noah Webster, Henry Longfellow, Dick VanDyke, and Katheryn Hepburn.
May your Thanksgiving this year be filled with love, peace and gratitude in your hearts.
In awe of you God and inspired by those Saints, Tanya Phillips
Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation that he wrote for a nationwide Thanksgiving:
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
*The Pilgrim Saints used the Geneva edition of the Bible, first published in English in 1560. The translation and footnotes of the Geneva Bible were made by early Calvinists more trustworthy to the Pilgrims than the later King James Bible (first published in 1611.)