Monday, November 19, 2012

Pause & be thankful!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
Thanksgiving is Thursday and most will spend it with family and friends feasting, watching football and shopping.  Some will say a quick prayer before they dive into the turkey and dressing, but many will not, taking the blessings of God for granted. 

Bear in mind that if God had not been watching over a small group of Pilgrims who found their way to the shores of Massachusetts in 1620, there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving.  Who were these Pilgrims that came to the ‘New World?’  When I was in school, I was taught the Pilgrims were Christians who were looking for religious freedom.  I doubt even that fact is taught in public schools today, but the Pilgrims didn’t just come to America to have religious freedom.  They had religious freedom in Holland for over a decade after fleeing England. 

In reality the Pilgrims were missionaries, coming to the New World to plant the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the wilderness. As William Bradford, wrote in his journal “They had a great hope and inward zeal of laying some good foundation…for the propagating and advancing the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be but even as stepping-stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.” Armed with a Geneva Bible, these 50 plus Christian exiles laid the moral, spiritual and governmental foundation of America in those early years.

The Pilgrims’ journey to America wasn’t easy.  They were on a ship for sixty six days with forty four days of rough seas.  Many were sick the entire journey.  Their first winter in the New World was brutal.  Thirteen of the eighteen Pilgrim wives died.  The small band was literally starving to death. 

We have all heard the story of Squanto who as William Bradford would write, was “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation.”  But did you know that Squanto had spent time in England, spoke English fluently and just ‘happened’ to be brought back to the very area where the Pilgrims were nine years before.  He taught them how to grow corn ‘the Indian way’ and what herbs and berries were edible. 

Almost exactly a year after they had landed in Massachusetts, fifty three Pilgrims celebrated their bountiful corn harvest with a feast.  They invited Squanto and his Indian friends and the celebration lasted three days.  The focus of their celebration was their thankfulness to God for his provision. 

Today, Thanksgiving Day celebrations bear little resemblance to that first one.  We have the feasting part down pretty well, but the thanksgiving part has taken a back seat to revelry and shopping.

Three things Americans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day:

First, we are still a free people.  While it’s true the government in America has gotten too big and is too involved in our lives, Americans still have more liberty than any other people on earth.  I realize some will question this statement, but look around and you will see no other country in the world that allows their citizens the mobility to travel, the flexibility to educate your children and the opportunities to determine your own employment than the U.S.A.

Second, we still live in a land where we have religious freedom.  While that may change and in fact is changing, we are still able to practice our religion as we please.  That is rare in the world and a blessing we should thank God for.

Third, we still have the right of free speech.  While that is also under attack, for the most part citizens can express their political opinions without fear of imprisonment or persecution.  America is one of the few countries in the world where the exchange of ideas is done in a way that doesn’t result in bloodshed.

So when you sit down Thursday, pause and be thankful for the blessings of God upon America.  Without his hand of blessing, we will not survive as a nation.

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