|A Thanksgiving Prayer
Thank You, God, for everything ...
For every good gift comes from God
The Giver of them all.
And all too often we accept
Without any thanks or praise,
The gifts You send as blessings
Each day in many ways.
And so at this Thanksgiving time,
We offer up a prayer;
To thank You, God, for giving us
A lot more than our share.
First, thank You for the little things
That often come our way;
The things we take for granted
And don't mention when we pray.
The unexpected courtesy,
The thoughtful, kindly deed,
A hand reached out to help us ...
In the time of sudden need.
Oh, make us more award, dear God,
Of little daily graces,
That come to us with sweet surprise,
From never-dreamed-of places.
Then, thank You for the miracles
We are much too blind to see,
And give us new awareness
Of our many gifts from Thee.
And help us to remember
That the key to life and living,
Is to make each prayer a
prayer of thanks,
And every day THANKSGIVING.
~ Helen Steiner Rice
'Tis the time of bundled sheaves
Of oats, rye and wheat.
Of canning and corn husking
And apples purely sweet.
We welcome our Thanksgiving,
As the sun's warmth slowly fades.
We have finished our yearly harvest
With our sweat and sickle blades
Blessed by nature's goodness,
We give thanks to the ripe lands.
With peach cider, wine and herbs,
Wild barley and pecans.
We celebrate our bounty,
As we embrace the deep fall.
And to our great Creator,
We give thanks above all.
|Sing and make music
in your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father
for everything, in the name of our
Lord, Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV
"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and bless his name."
Psalm 100:4 NIV
"Let us come before him
with thanksgiving and extol
him with music and song."
Psalm 95:2 NIV
Give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good;
his love endures forever."
1Chronicles 16:34 NIV
This month, with our celebration of Thanksgiving, we initiate our holiday season: a time for
families and a time of reflection. This unique day reflects ~ perhaps more than any other ~
our national religious character.
There are, actually, numerous claims to the "first" Thanksgiving. One of the earliest recorded celebrations
occurred a half-century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1621. A small colony of French Huguenots
established a settlement near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. On June 30, 1564, their leader, Rene de
Laudonniere, recorded that "We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please
Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us."
In 1610, after a hard winter called "the starving time," the colonists at Jamestown called for a time of
thanksgiving. This was after the original company of 409 colonists had been reduced to 60 survivors. The
colonists prayed for help that finally arrived by a ship filled with food and supplies from England. They held a
prayer service to give thanks.
This thanksgiving celebration was not originally commemorated yearly. An annual commemoration of thanks
came nine years later in another part of Virginia. "On December 4, 1619, 38 colonists landed at a place they
called Berkeley Hundred [in Virginia]. 'We ordain,' read an instruction in the charter, 'that the day of our
ship's arrival...in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to
The early settlers of America, who braved the privations of those incredibly difficult years, were a fabulous lot,
indeed. We can hardly imagine the burdens they endured to make a new life for themselves in a new land.
Their turning point began one Friday in the middle of March,1621.
An Indian, wearing nothing but a leather loincloth, strode up their main street to the common house, and to
their startled faces boomed in flawless English, "Welcome." His name was Samoset, a sagamore (or chief) of
the Algonquins. He had been visiting the area for the previous eight months, having learned his English from
various fishing captains who had put in to the Maine shore over the years.
He returned the following Thursday with another Indian who also spoke English, and who was to prove "a
special instrument of God for their good, beyond their expectation." His story was to prove no less
extraordinary than the saga of Joseph being sold into slavery to Egypt. His name was Tisquantum, also called
His story began in 1605 when Squanto and four other Indians were taken captive, sent to England, and taught
English to provide intelligence background on the most favorable places to establish colonies. After nine
years in England, Squanto was able to return to Plymouth on Capt. John Smith's voyage in 1614.
Lured and captured by a notorious Capt. Thomas Hunt, he, with 27 others, were taken to Málaga, Spain, a
major slave-trading port. Squanto, with a few others, were bought and rescued by local friars and introduced
to the Christian faith. Thus, it appears that God was preparing him for the role he would ultimately play at
Plymouth. He was able to attach himself to an Englishman bound for London, then he joined the family of a
wealthy merchant, and ultimately embarked for New England in 1619. He stepped ashore six months before
the Pilgrims landed in 1620.
When he stepped ashore he received the most tragic blow of his life. Not a man, woman, or child of his own
tribe was left alive! During the previous four years, a mysterious plague had broken out among them, killing
every last one. So complete was the devastation that the neighboring tribes had shunned the area ever since.
The Pilgrims had settled in a cleared area that belonged to no one. Their nearest neighbors, the
Wampanoags, were about 50 miles to the southwest.
Stripped of his identity and his reason for living, Squanto wandered aimlessly until he joined the
Wampanoags, having nowhere else to go. But God had other plans.
Massasoit, the sachem (or chief) of the Wapanoags, entered into a peace treaty of mutual aid with the
Plymouth colony that was to last as a model for forty years. When Massasoit and his entourage left, Squanto
stayed. He had found his reason for living: these English were helpless in the ways of the wilderness. Squanto
taught them how to catch eels, stalk deer, plant pumpkins, refine maple syrup, discern both edible herbs and
those good for medicine, etc.
Perhaps the most important thing he taught them was the Indian way to plant corn. They hoed six-foot
squares in toward the center, putting down four or five kernels, and then fertilizing the corn with fish: three fish
in each square, pointing to the center, spokelike. Guarding the field against the wolves (who would try to steal
the fish), by summer they had 20 full acres of corn that would save every one of their lives.
Squanto also taught them to exploit the pelts of the beaver, which was in plentiful supply and in great demand
throughout Europe. He even guided the trading to insure they got full prices for top-quality pelts. The corn
was their physical deliverance; the beaver pelts would be their economic deliverance.
The First Thanksgiving
The Pilgrims were a grateful people-grateful to God, grateful to the Wamp-anoags, and grateful also to
Squanto. Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving, to be held in October.
Massasoit was invited and unexpectedly arrived a day early-with an additional ninety Indians! To feed such a
crowd would cut deeply into their stores for the winter, but they had learned through all their travails that God
could be trusted implicitly.
And it turned out that the Indians did not come empty handed: they brought five dressed deer and more than
a dozen fat wild turkeys. They helped with the preparations, teaching the Pilgrim women how to make
hoecakes and a tasty pudding out of cornmeal and maple syrup. In fact, they also showed them how to make
one of their Indian favorites: white, fluffy popcorn! (Each time you go to a movie theatre, you should
remember the source of this popular treat!)
The Pilgrims, in turn, provided many vegetables from their gardens: carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips,
cucumbers, radishes, beets, and cabbages. Also, using some of their precious flour with some of the summer
fruits which the Indians had dried, the Pilgrims introduced them to blueberry, apple, and cherry pie. Along with
sweet wine made from wild grapes, it was, indeed, a joyous occasion for all concerned.
The Pilgrims and Indians happily competed in shooting contests, foot races, and wrestling. Things went so
well (and Massasoit showed no inclination to leave) that this first Thanksgiving was extended for three days.
The moment that stood out the most in the Pilgrims' memories was William Brewster's prayer as they began
the festival. They had so much for which to thank God: for providing all their needs-and His provision of
Squanto, their teacher, guide, and friend that was to see them through those critical early winters.
A National Institution
While none of these Thanksgiving celebrations was an official national pronouncement (since no nation
existed at the time), they do support the claim that the celebrations were religious. "Thanksgiving began as a
holy day, created by a community of God-fearing Puritans sincere in their desire to set aside one day each
year especially to thank the Lord for His many blessings. The day they chose, coming after the harvest at a
time of year when farm work was light, fit the natural rhythm of rural life."
By the end of the 19th century, Thanksgiving Day had become an institution throughout New England. It was
officially proclaimed as a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863:
"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the
gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless
remembered mercy...I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States and those who
are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November next as a day of
Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
Traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November, Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the celebration to
the third Thursday in November "to give more shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas." At this
point Congress enacted the 'fourth Thursday' compromise. Ever since this pragmatic and commercial
approach to Thanksgiving was promoted, its original meaning has steadily been lost. Canada first adopted
Thanksgiving as a national holiday in November 1879, and it is now celebrated there annually on the second
Monday in October.
Our Unique Blessings
It is particularly appropriate for us to examine our most unique blessing: our sacred heritage. I believe that
you and I are beneficiaries of a legacy, the stewardship of which we will be held accountable before the
Throne of God.
To all those who would take over the world, our Anglo-American principles, attitudes, and traditions have been
the object of hate and arch enmity. In Soviet occupation, which followed Nazi occupation, the same henchmen
jailed the same people of the same crime - listening to an English language broadcast, whether it was 1944 or
The loss of two world wars and the cold war made it clear that neither German technological genius nor Soviet
numerical advantage was sufficient to carry the day against American resolve. Their solution: deprive
American consciousness of its solid foundations and remove forever the intractable impediments standing in
the way of those who dream of a closed, regimented, controlled world. By divorcing the fruits of Western
civilization and American pragmatism from their roots, from the personalities and events which brought them
forth, there would be no more need for battlefield victories.
Ours is a unique heritage. Some receive it through birth. Others transcend hardship to claim it, but all of us
are stewards of great ideas and traditions. Knowledge of them and respect for them have served us like
protective armor. We too are to countenance the creation of generations who will be naked and defenseless.
We are in a war - one that began long ago and has now honed in on its ultimate objective: America's soul.
Schoolchildren in other lands grow up imbued with legends handed down before the emergence of written
history. American teachers have a real story to tell: that of America's founding which - in the absence of
common ethnic roots - is the central binding agent in the fabric of this country. Our country, as opposed to
others which evolved over a long time, was deliberately created in a specific way. People prayerfully sat down
and figured out what it ought to be.
In the Third Reich or the Soviet Union, education was always the first target. The organized dismantling of our
educational system is not just a "dumbing down," but something even more sinister than that. It is the
un-teaching of history; the concerted effort by our historians to strip America and the West of its
accomplishments, and the genius of its traditions. History is the national memory.
Our American youth have thus been disenfranchised from our Christian heritage. How will one find truth if he
is convinced it doesn't exist? Our commentators, our politicians, and our media cannot discern the
significance of maintaining a rule of law. "Boys will be boys."
The most disturbing aspect of these contraventions of our traditional heritage is the duplicity of the mass
media. The very ones with the mandate to be the guardians of truth are manifestly part of the problem. The
spiking of dissent, the enforcement of political correctness, and the pursuit of their own self-serving agendas
have denied the public their access to today's realities and have prostituted one of democracy's most sacred
institutions. It is a very thin line that separates spin doctoring and aiding and abetting the continuance of the
criminal conspiracy against the electorate. Fortunately, the alternative press, talk radio, and, of course, the
Internet may be changing the balance in this equation.
Originally observed to acknowledge the provision of God, let us also make this national holiday a very special
time to thank Him for our own provision - our families, our sustenance, and, above all, our redemption in His
Son! Let's also pray that He might restore the religious freedom that those early Pilgrims cherished so dearly -
and that the current enforced paganism that has invaded our land be curtailed. This country is now becoming
what the Pilgrims had risked their very lives to flee.
Thanksgiving 2003, I came across some wonderful articles about Thanksgiving at this great site:
http://www.khouse.org/ and have put them together for your reading enjoyment. I believe the content is
as applicable today as it was a few short years back. The articles at the site had footnotes referencing
history data, so if you're a fact finder, surf on over to the site, and further your reading!
Music playing is
|Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Lyrics by Henry Alford (1810-1871). Sir George J. Elvey
(1816-1893), organist at St. George's Chapel, Windsor
Castle for nearly fifty years, wrote the music to the
well-loved Thanksgiving hymn about 1844.
Come ye thankful people come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied:
Come to God's own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God's own field
Fruit unto his praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of the harvest! grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.
Even so, Lord, quickly come,
Bring thy final harvest home;
Gather thou thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
Come, with all thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home.
For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take his harvest home;
From his field shall in that day
All offenses purge away,
Give his angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In his garner evermore.