The First Thanksgiving
by Scott Bruun
It’s fun to imagine what that first Thanksgiving must have been like. We know that it was a crisp fall day in 1621 – likely in early October. With bright red and orange leaves as a backdrop, and the smell of freshly roasted duck, geese, wild turkey and venison coming from the cooking fires, the pilgrims indeed had much for which to be thankful. Only eleven months earlier the pilgrims had arrived in the New World to face the unknown. And through that bitter and tumultuous first winter in Plymouth, the likelihood of their survival was always in doubt. But through grit, deep faith and the providential help of the local Indians, the pilgrims survived those earliest months. Now, on this day, the pilgrims had afforded themselves the luxury of a feast in joyful celebration and gratitude to God.
As the pilgrims celebrated and feasted on their bounty that day, there is no doubt that prayer and the public reading of scripture were heard continuously. In this setting it’s easy to imagine the exuberant public reading of Psalm 100: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
On this Thanksgiving Day of 2011, 390 years after the first, we should pause and consider our blessings of freedom, ensured by the nation that the New World became. And let our hearts be filled with the same love and wondrous gratitude for God that our forebears demonstrated on that crisp fall day so long ago.