So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6–7 (NIV)
The Pilgrims, devout in their faith, left England in 1608 for Amsterdam in search of religious freedom. They lived there twelve years before the foreign culture wore them down and they decided to head for the New World. Their journey on the Mayflower was desperate. The ship was designed for carrying cargo, not passengers. And the cabin where they slept was intended for thirty people, not eighty. Their food rotted and was infested with insects; they nearly drowned when the ship’s main beam cracked; they endured ridicule from the sailors.
When they arrived in the New World, the Pilgrims still faced challenges – building dwelling places, growing food, caring for the sick and dying. But in all things they gave thanks, and observed a full day of Sabbath each week. And they decided to have a Thanksgiving feast. During this three-day celebration, they gave thanks for their food, seven houses built, a peace treaty with the Native Americans and most importantly the freedom to worship God. The women cooked, the men played games and they all shared stories and gave thanks.
And so the heritage of Americans, who for one holiday at least eschew commercialism and come together on this day to enjoy good food and one another. Many Christians keep up the tradition of sharing stories of thankfulness around the table. And with the telling and the listening, they become strengthened in their faith, as we see in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
The challenges we face will differ from those of the Pilgrims. But we can follow their example of devotion to God, taking risks, reaching out to different people and taking time to celebrate and give thanks. We may not be eating turkey today, but we all can take a moment to “give thanks to the Lord for he is good” (Psalm 107:1).
For reflection: “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (Luke 24:30).