When we think of the iconic images of Thanksgiving, we envision the turkey (yum) and the classic table ‘fixins’, along with the cornucopia of squash and pumpkin. Typically, Thanksgiving images include a Pilgrim or two. The ‘Pilgrims’, as we call them, didn’t get that name until 1840– but they certainly wouldn’t have minded the title.
The early settlers to the ‘new world’ came, not for grins and giggles, but came to this land running from persecution. This group was a band of separatists who didn’t want to worship under the ‘official’ religion of the state– the Church of England. This didn't make them terribly popular– so they were persecuted… terribly persecuted. The group escaped England, abandoning their homes and lives, moving to Holland in 1607, but this move was only temporary. In 1640, the group was declining and needed to find a new home… a permanent home where they could worship God in peace.
The separatists fell heavily upon their own faith, and crossed the great Atlantic to seek the new continent of America. They sailed under the full confidence that whatever their fate, they would find it with devotion to God. After a PERILOUS journey, the separatists landed in modern New England in 1640. Finding firm ground– the Mayflower landed and the group prayed and looked to Scripture– finding comfort in a verse from the Book of Hebrews.
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they werestrangers and pilgrimson the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a better country: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV).
In these days, let us ALSO be thankful– let US be pilgrims– and fall heavily upon our faith, that God will guide us to a new land… a new country… not by a sailing vessel, but by the coming of Jesus Christ to usher a new age for all humankind.