"It’s true that debunkers can score some easy points. The term 'Pilgrims' wasn’t popularized until later. They didn’t wear dour clothes. They didn’t consider their iconic gathering in 1621 a formal thanksgiving... But the basic contours of the holiday are recognizable in that long-ago event." - N.Review
In our last installment, we considered three essential lessons that we may learn from the lives of the Thanksgiving Pilgrims. Here are the final two lessons that we will consider.
The Pilgrims model perseverance in the midst of difficulty (Phil. 3:14).
The Pilgrims were persecuted, jailed, harassed, hunted and humiliated. They knew almost every type of danger and embarrassment. Even modern action films cannot match the stories of their harrowing escapes from danger. They were betrayed by a shipmaster in their first attempt to escape persecution in England in 1607, but that did not stop them.
William Bradford and his mentor, William Brewster, are perhaps the most notable in this regard—having led the church in the midst of peril all the way from Scrooby to Plymouth. When the Pilgrim women and children were arrested after the men had successfully escaped to Amsterdam on their second attempt in 1608, it was these two men who stayed behind to care for those wives and children. Yet Bradford still managed to outlast many of his brethren by serving for more than 30 years as governor of Plymouth Colony.
"Robinson is not suggesting in his hymn that we all go out and build monuments to God. Rather, as he observes in the next stanza, our hearts are prone to wander and we need touchstones in our lives to remind us what God has done for us individually and, by extension, all God’s people 'thus far.'" - TIFWE
In my previous article, I introduced the importance of the Pilgrims, and shared a little bit of my own heart for my Thanksgiving, and my interest in studying and teaching on the Pilgrims.
This time, we will consider the first three of five essential lessons that we can learn from the Thanksgiving Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims vividly portray the pilgrim-like nature of the Christian life (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11, 12).
This is, of course, the truth for which the Pilgrims have been named, since they lived it out so completely in their spiritual lives. The Pilgrims left all they had in order to seek a place where they might worship God freely and witness for Him fruitfully. Their journeys took them from their homes in Scrooby, England, to Amsterdam and Leyden in Holland, then ultimately across the stormy ocean to this New World.
The Bible admonishes all believers to think of this life with the mindset of a pilgrim, a stranger in the world, a foreigner among the nations of people whose interests are centered upon this earth (Phil 3:20).
There is no question about it—Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, bar none.
The mere word warms my heart and causes my mind to click through the memories of Novembers long past. It conjures up images of family and dear friends—some now departed—gathered around a bountiful table; of special services at church and shortened weeks of school; of singing grand old hymns which we re-learn usually just once every year; and, most importantly, of giving thanks to God for bringing us safely through another season of life.
For many, many years, there was little secular, commercial connection to Thanksgiving at all—except for sales on turkey, and the occasional silly commercial message, in which those advertising a product dressed up in supposed 17th-century garb. For the most part, though, the closest that retailers got to this celebration was speaking of the day which follows it.
Thanksgiving also has never really been corrupted by worldliness. Few seem to talk about getting drunk for Thanksgiving Day or staying out all night beforehand.
Somehow Thanksgiving—both the day and the action—seems to have a calming effect within our souls. Celebrating it helps us draw a mental line between the cares of the old year and the onset of the new one, while preparing us to remember the birth of Christ in the meantime.
And, perhaps never before has a season of Thanksgiving been as necessary as a healing balm for our spirits as it is during this most trying year of 2020.
"When you read it, consider the tone, humility, and outlook of President George Washington and ask yourself if any of our current leaders match him. It is, for me, a breath of fresh air, a reminder that while our Founders had many sins, they were at the same time driven to seek the good, the true, and the beautiful." - Intellectual Takeout
"Facing potential starvation, the colony abandoned their communal system. Each family was given their own land ....they alone were responsible for feeding themselves, taking to heart Paul’s admonition in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, 'The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” This change brought dramatic results.'" - IFWE