It’s that special time of year. Harvest is over. Leaves have flashed in color and danced with the wind to the ground. Time has been spent in a tree stand teaching the younger generation how to get that perfect deer. Football games are watched sitting by a blazing fire at home rather than the local high school bleachers as college football becomes the focus. Wood smoke fills the air. New days begin with the sparkly cover of a morning frost. It’s time for one of my favorite national holidays: Thanksgiving!
When I think of this holiday I think of the Pilgrims and that first Thanksgiving in 1621 when they gathered with their Native American friends to thank the Lord for His provision after surviving that first perilous year. So many had perished during the harsh winter but the dream lived on. That original dream is captured in one of the paintings displayed in the Capitol rotunda. The painting depicts the beginning of the Pilgrims journey and captures the essence of why they came.
The “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” shows the Pilgrims gathered on the deck of the Speedwell (the original boat on which they began their journey to America before needed repairs caused them to switch to the Mayflower). In the painting, the Pilgrims kneel in prayer as William Brewster, colony leader and preacher, holds an open Bible. Governor Carver kneels with his head bowed with another pastor kneeling and extending his arms while looking Heavenward as families and children gather around. The phrase “God with us” is seen on the sail.
The Pilgrims came here for religious freedom and for a better life for their children beginning their journey with prayer. As William Bradford said, “…the Pilgrims longed to bring the gospel to people who had not yet heard the message of Jesus Christ. They cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”
We owe a great deal to these brave individuals, and to so many who followed them, for laying the foundation of our great country and setting the example of courage and faith that America continues to draw strength from today. We have been blessed as a nation for many years in large part, I believe, because of God’s faithfulness to hear the prayers and honor the lives and sacrifices of the Pilgrims and others like them. Each generation of Americans is responsible for carrying on the wonderful heritage of prayer, freedom, and thankfulness that were the cornerstones laid by those who have gone before us. Now is our time.
May we be faithful to continue the charge and take a moment this week to count our many blessings; to name them one by one; to see what God has done—and to thank Him for them. And, may we pause to ask Him to continue to bless us as a nation so future generations will be able to enjoy the blessings of prosperity and freedom we have so long enjoyed.
I am thankful to serve you at this time in our nation’s history and look forward to commemorating this special day with you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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