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Thanksgiving is Spiritual Food Too


If you have ever been to a public school, you already know the story of the Pilgrims sharing a meal with the Native Americans to celebrate a brotherhood. But did you know that this was more than just a friendly gathering? Nowadays society has been plagued with ideas that encourage division such as critical race theory and talk of how the “white man stole the red man’s land.” While I attended American Public University, my professors encouraged the study of controversial ideas and many of our assignments involved debating with other students. One of the main topics that was discussed was concerning Native Americans. I was learning about Native American History that was taught by a Native American woman and she analyzed these beliefs. Through a breakdown of her own heritage and culture, she taught us that it was not a one-sided feud and that there was more to Thanksgiving then just a humble celebration. There was even more to this brotherhood than we are taught in schools. To begin with, the pilgrims were a group of people that were fleeing from persecution from England so they could have religious freedom. The Native Americans welcomed them, although they were cautious, but the “white man” had resources they could use, and the Indians had both skills and resources as well that the settlers found very valuable. The Natives taught the colonizers how to grow crops, hunt, and other trades that would be useful, making good use of the land.



In December 1620, the weather was very cold, and the ground was frozen solid. Survival was a challenge for the Pilgrims aboard The Mayflower, but the conditions became more favorable over time during their travels. In November 1621, there was a bountiful harvest which the settlers deemed a miracle after they had endured such harsh conditions in their voyage. The Wampanoag Indians and the English came together to celebrate this bounty with a feast, the tribe offered up their venison and fowl and the English contributed lobsters and mussels. Corn was a staple as well but would be ground up into cornmeal or porridge sweetened with molasses. It is highly unlikely turkey was even on the menu although some theories support it. Just because there is documentation of a “fowling” party sent out in search of wild game, does not mean that they were successful in hunting wild turkeys, however it has been recorded that they had prepared for a 3-day celebration and hunted fowl for a good while. The Wampanoag offered venison and the colonists made it into stew. This celebration was to toast to a blessed harvest. 2 Corinthians 9:8— “And God is able to make grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” To give thanks to God for the bounty, and the neighboring tribe for their efforts; everyone worked as a team and there was harmony. In fact, this peace was a pact that endured for years. Chief Massasoit kept peace and order for over 50 years between the English and the tribe.



The Wampanoag Indians and the English Settlers were very friendly and often exchanged gifts.  A bartering system was even formed. What destroyed this companionship were fear and doubt. In public school you only learn that the colonizers came to steal the Native Americans’ land and they were nothing but greedy and wanted to force them to assimilate to the colonizers’ beliefs. This is not true, because the pilgrims themselves were running from England to practice Christianity apart from the English state church. It didn’t make sense to be hypocrites and do the same to another group of people. They built camps that offered members of the tribe a place to come and study their ways, and they were receptive to what the Indians also taught. Some of the Indians already believed as the Christians did. It wasn’t until a group of colonists that arrived years later and launched an attack on a rival tribe that the  peace treaty was shattered, and the Indians became paranoid that the settlers would harm them. Fear was the cause, fear of the unknown and fear of being attacked so they attacked first, and it led to the seed of doubt being planted in both the minds of the Indians and the pilgrims. The bond between the two was now a tense business partnership based solely on barter and trade. This too led to issues, as greed turned to violence.



Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving with the traditional turkey, pumpkin pie, and family. Family is the clear theme. Every year, we celebrate holidays that draw family together, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The First Thanksgiving in 1621 was a blessing and a portrait of two cultures setting aside their differences to work together and share a compassionate bond. We do the same year after year with our own families, but why restrict that togetherness to holidays when we should be having Thanksgiving in our hearts year-round and embracing our families? To married couples, family is the first ministry and oneness should start at home. After all, home is where the heart is. Family is defined as: unity in the Body of Christ, stability and balance at home, unbreakable bonds, and accountability/responsibility. We learn about this in Deuteronomy 6:6-7— “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” The Lord knew what he was doing when he made a help mate for Adam, he made man and woman, destined to be joined as one, and to bear and raise children to come to worship Him. We should always thank Him for His divine plan for us, for His plans for us to prosper.



We should always be thankful, 365 days a year, not just on the 4th Thursday of November. Philippians 4:4-7 teaches— “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We should all be thankful we can wake up every morning with breath in our lungs, with food in our fridge, with freedom to practice Christianity without fear of our heads being chopped off just for owning the Holy Bible, or with the fact Jesus paid the debt of our sins with His blood. We have so much to give thanks to God for, but often we are taking it for granted at times and we don’t realize it. The Lord says to rejoice in Him ALWAYS, not sometimes or just when you see the blessings in your life but even in the storms of life before you see the rainbow. John 16:33— “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” God has already promised us peace and understanding and for that we should be forever thankful. We are not deserving of His grace, but He is a merciful God. Psalm 100:5— “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”



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