Let us give thanks


This Thursday is Thanksgiving. It brings visions of harvest time, happy family reunions, tables laden with food—a big turkey with stuffing and gravy, casseroles of all kinds, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

At Thanksgiving I envision one thing else, and I bet you do too—the Pilgrims. Theirs was the first Thanksgiving. Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony issued the very first Thanksgiving proclamation.

It happened 388 years ago. The year was 1621. One year before, the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth Rock. It was a dreadful winter of starvation, sickness and death. The losses of life sustained were staggering.

Of the 102 passengers who came ashore that bleak December, seven died during the first month, eight died in January, seventeen died in February, thirteen died in March, and six more died before summer.

Four entire families perished. Out of 18 wives and mothers who came over on the Mayflower, 14 died. Four cooks prepared that first Thanksgiving dinner.

And yet, they gave thanks!

Today we wonder how they managed it. What did they find for which to be thankful? But they did. Governor Bradford's proclamation was the official utterance of their desire to give thanks to God for their manifold blessings.

One can't keep from wondering— is our gratitude that great?

Thanksgiving, 2009—Our nation is the richest nation on earth. Our bounty is incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Yet, in this, the richest nation on earth, there are 34 million people who are hungry. Around the world multitudes are starving. Still, as of old, Christ is saying, "You give them something to eat."

Thanksgiving, 2009—Ours is indeed "the land of the free." But millions on our planet live in bondage and fear. America can never be truly free until people everywhere are free.

Thanksgiving, 2009—The greatest blessing of all is our Christian heritage bequeathed to us and exemplified by the Pilgrims. Because we have received so much let us resolve at this season of Thanksgiving to witness and to share our faith with our neighbors next door, across our land, around the world.

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church in Temple where he served as senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers. His e-mail address is cmnichols44@hot.

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2009-11-26 digital edition

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