For in the days of David and Asaph long ago there was a leader of the singers and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. (Nehemiah 12: 46 NRSV)
We Americans have just celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday on which we should remember many things.
Thanksgiving is a time of gathering together: family, friends and neighbors. It is also a time we should remember those who do not have family or friends or neighbors. Inevitably, at Thanksgiving, we remember those who are not with us this year, for whatever reason: distance, responsibilities, or death.
In the midst of our turkeys, dressing and pies, I hope we all remembered to give thanks!
We are a blessed people, and we owe the Lord our gratitude. We need to be mindful of our blessings: our freedom, our history, this vast land with its bounty and our opportunities.
Contrary to what most of us remember from grade school, the first Thanksgiving observance in America was not in New England in 1620. On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at the Berkeley Plantation, on the James River near what is now Charles City, Virginia. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God.
The New England colonists settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. The first dreadful winter killed about half the members of the colony. Thanks to the indigenous people, who welcomed the newcomers and gave them food and lessons in how to plant crops when spring arrived, the colonists who had survived the winter expected a good corn harvest, despite the poor crops of peas, wheat and barley.
As you eat your leftovers from Thanksgiving Day (I hope you have some!), pause and remember those brave pilgrims!