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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The First Thanksgiving - The Joy

From: Off The Grid News Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2011 Subject: The Joy Of Thanksgiving
"our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."  – Edward Winslow, Mort’s Relation (1622)  [sourcehttp://www.pilgrimhall.org/1stthnks.htmPilgrim Hall Museum, 75 Court Street, Plymouth, MA 02360]


article source: http://billydie.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-joy-of-thanksgiving/
related: http://www.offthegridnews.com/2011/11/24/the-best-thanksgiving-ever/
related: http://www.offthegridnews.com/2011/11/22/thanksgiving-a-uniquely-american-tradition/
The Joy Of Thanksgiving
Origin: A post by billydie in Inspiration at WordPress.com on Friday, 25 November 2011
The First Thanksgiving
     We do know some things about the first Thanksgiving.  But William Bradford, Plymouth's perennial governor, and his assistant, Edward Winslow, are the only contemporary writers who mention it.  They described the celebration briefly.  The occasion was a successful harvest after months of extreme hardship and deprivation.  The Mayflower survivors invited the Indian king Massasoit to their celebration, and he came with ninety-some of his men.  The Pilgrims provided waterfowl and turkey; the Indians added five deer.  There were games and athletic contests (William Brewster would probably watch the Lions-Packers game if he were alive today!), and even a joint militia drill.  The celebration lasted three days.  But neither Bradford nor Winslow actually called the feast "Thanksgiving," and neither mentioned prayers of thanks or any kind of worship service.  This has given occasion for some historians to question whether this "first Thanksgiving" was a religious celebration at all.  But that's because they don't know the Pilgrims and what they really believed.
Grace and Thankfulness
     The Pilgrims were children of the Reformation.  Like the 16th century Reformers, they were fully committed to the biblical doctrine of justification by faith.  They understood that God graciously declares guilty sinners righteous on the basis of Christ's perfect obedience and substitutionary death, that this gift of legally transferred righteousness is received by faith alone and that such faith is itself the gift of a sovereign God. But they also knew that grace doesn't end there.  They, no less than the Reformers, had faced the obvious questions: "Why then should believers do good works?  Doesn't the doctrine of justification by faith lead to antinomianism and lawlessness?"
     The Pilgrim answer, and the answer of Scripture, involves the nature of saving faith and the work of the Spirit who grants it.  In bringing us sinners to faith, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts.  He implants joy and a spirit of thankfulness.  He gives the converted sinner a delight in serving God.  And this thankfulness then, becomes itself a great comfort.
Comfort and Joy
     The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) is one the oldest Reformed confessions and one the Pilgrims ran into when in Holland.  (John Robinson even participated in the theological debates at the University in Leiden.)  The questions and answers of the Heidelberg Catechism were framed in terms of comfort and joy, which no doubt shaped Pilgrim thought.  In fact, its first question is, "What is thy only comfort in life and in death?"   The answer is this:
     That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who, with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation.  Wherefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto him.
     The Catechism's second question introduces the issue of happiness:  What must we know to live and die happily in this comfort?  The answer is threefold and for the Pilgrims, a constant reminder:  1) we must know the greatness of our sin and misery; 2) we must know the means of our redemption; and 3) we must know the proper way to be thankful to God.  In other words, in order to "live and die happily," we must not only know how to be saved, but we must also know how to be "thankful to God" for our salvation.  The Pilgrims believed happiness grows and is completed in thankfulness.  Thankfulness enables the forgiven sinner to enjoy the comfort of the gospel happily, that is, with true joy.
Why Thanksgiving?
     But a question arises.  Is God being selfish in wanting a thankful people?  Not at all. First, as the Source of all life, joy, and blessedness, He knows Himself to be our highest good.  Second, He knows that we can't fully enjoy Him or His gifts apart from true thankfulness.  After all, this is the very nature of joy.  When we enjoy a thing, we are thankful for it.  We praise the gift to the giver and so enjoy both.
     "Thank you for this ring!  It's magnificent!"
     "What a fantastic dinner!  It was the best ever. Thank you."
     "Thank you!  Thank you so much!  I never thought I'd see Wittenberg."
     When we find joy in another human being, we show our joy and gratitude with words and actions.  We praise and magnify the one we love.  We are thankful to love and to be loved.
     "I'm proud of you, son.  You're the best."
     "I thank God for you every day.  My life wouldn't be the same without you."
     "There's no one else like you!  I love you so much!"
     Joy finds its fulfillment in thankfulness, in praise and thanksgiving.  Silent joy is a contradiction.  Mute appreciation isn't really thanks.  God requires our thanksgiving so that our joy may be full.
The Joy of the Lord
     It seems odd that when theologians list the attributes of God, they rarely include joy.  A few speak of His "blessedness."   But joy isn't one we use much.  An older writer, William Wisheart (1716), defined God's blessedness as that attribute, whereby "having all fullness of perfection and sufficiency in himself, he doth most perfectly and unchangeably enjoy himself."  God is wholly blessed in that He fully understands, loves, and delights in His own infinite perfections.  For He is absolute life, perfectly good, and wholly glorious.  There is nothing we can add to His joy.  There is nothing we can give Him that He has not first given us.  And so He does not thank us.  But He does rejoice over us.  He rejoices over His covenant people (Zeph. 3:17).  He rejoices in the works of His hands (Ps. 104:31).
     This divine joy is especially Trinitarian.  The Father loves and delights in His Son (Matt. 17:5). He honors and glorifies Him (John 17:5).  The Son rejoices in His Father (Prov. 8:30-31).  He seeks His honor, rather than His own (John 17:4).  The Spirit brings glory to the Son and not to Himself (John 16:14).  From eternity, God is overflowing joy and delight.  Furthermore, Jesus in His humanity regularly gave thanks to His Father.  He did so before every meal (John 6:11).  He gave thanks when He sang songs of praise, whether in the synagogue or in private worship (Mark 14:26).  And on more than one occasion, He stopped in the middle of a public conversation or discourse and said, "I thank thee, O Father..." (Matt. 11:25; John 11:41).  The joy of the Triune God overflows in the thankfulness of the divine Messiah.  It overflows in the praises of all those who call themselves Christians.
Conclusion
     The Pilgrims, Puritans, and Reformers are almost always portrayed as obsessive killjoys and miserable downers.  There's little truth in that image.  Joy wasn't an afterthought for our Pilgrim forefathers.  For them, joy stood at the beginning, in the center, and at the end.  For them, God was joy, even when they were hungry and that same joy expressed itself in thankfulness.  For the Pilgrims, a day of rejoicing is necessarily a day of thanksgiving.  And throughout Scripture that sort of rejoicing means feasting, fellowship, and worship.  The Pilgrims were deeply committed Christians who had braved an ocean and a wilderness to seek and serve God.  When they rejoiced together, it would not--could not--be other than a time of thanksgiving to their Lord and Savior.  Yes, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and so should all of us.
     At Off-The-Grid-News and Solutions From Science we are extremely thankful to God for what we have, the legacy of our Pilgrim forefathers and especially for you, our dear readers and customers.  May God bless you richly today on Thanksgiving as you celebrate in joy what you have been so graciously given.
     Warmly, Bill Heid, Founder Off The Grid News
     President Solutions From Science
     P.S. For another article on making this the best Thanksgiving ever, click here.
     Off The Grid News, 2200 IL Route 84, PO Box 518, Thomson, IL 61285, USA

Tell A Friend! Click here to let a friend know about Off The Grid News.  This newsletter is a free weekly service of Solutions From Science.  You can reach us at: Solutions From Science, 815 W. Main St., P.O. Box 518, Thomson, IL 61285 -- Email us at info@solutionsfromscience.com  article source: http://billydie.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-joy-of-thanksgiving/

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation :
(In the original 17th century spelling)
"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports."   [sourcehttp://www.pilgrimhall.org/1stthnks.htmPilgrim Hall Museum, 75 Court Street, Plymouth, MA 02360]


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Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta, ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
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There are certain universal truths.  There is right and wrong.  Life is, choice Isn't.  The 2nd Amendment is for you and me, not the government.

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