Sermon Snap Shot November 12, 2017

Sermon Snap Shot November 12, 2017

When the Pilgrims harvested their first crop of corn, beans, and cabbages that first fall in 1621, they did the customary thing that any Englishman would have done: they celebrated their bounty with a thanksgiving feast.

But of course, their first Thanksgiving just south of modern day Boston was special for another significant reason. The 53 surviving Pilgrims knew that they would have never survived had it not been for the assistance and counsel from two English-speaking Native American Indians, Squanto and Samoset. Squanto’s tribe’s home was known as Patuxet and had been located on the same land before being decimated by diseases brought by Europeans who had arrived 15 years earlier. If you recall, Squanto and Samoset both had been befriended by English explorers who had taken them to England where they had learned the language.

When the Pilgrims arrived as aliens from a foreign land, these two native inhabitants had shown them hospitality and mercy, as was their custom. And they shared with them skills and knowledge in agriculture, hunting and building that allowed them to survive that first year in the New World.

Captain Miles Standish, the Pilgrim’s leader, invited the two men to join their celebration, in part to recognize the contributions that they had made toward their survival. Standish also invited them to bring their immediate families.

What Standish didn’t realize is that Squanto, Samoset and their kindred knew all about the practice of thanksgiving. Indeed, in their culture they had for thousands of years celebrated “thanksgiving” not once but six times a year…when the maple syrup could be tapped…when the seeds were planted…when the corn ripened…when strawberries came in…and so on. When the Pilgrims decided to celebrate their first Thanksgiving, this would have been the 5th “thanksgiving” that year for their tribe!

At the appointed time, Squanto and Samoset showed up for the feast with their family…all 90 of them! Captain Standish had no idea that they would bring so many, so members of their tribe went back home to collect more food while others went on a hunt for more meat. Eventually, five deer, a number of wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn and berries were brought to the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving for all to enjoy. And the feast lasted three days!

Despite its imperfections and the short-lived good relations between the two groups, the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving does give us a glimpse of what being a community of gratitude might look like:

It is a place where all are invited to share whatever they are able to share…
It is a place where old friendships are strengthened while new ones are forged…and
It is a place where the good gifts of God – or in the case of the natives, the Great Spirit – are celebrated and enjoyed.

From Sunday, November 12 message, “3 Signs of True Community: Gratitude”

Note: Much of this history from the Native American Indian’s perspective was borrowed from Chuck Larsen’s “The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story”
Rev. Lane Glaze
Pastor, Waters Edge UMC
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