Enter in his gates with Thanksgiving

By Norma Shull Smith

November. is of course a month where our eyes are turned to the National Holiday of Thanksgiving; a month where most families gather on that day and share in a traditional dinner.  It is a time when we should pause and reflect on how very blessed we all are.  America has her share of woes, ups and downs, but anyone visiting foreign land are quickly reminded that this is still the country of choice, as it was back in  September of 1620, when the Mayflower set sail.  There was about 100 souls aboard, with their eyes set on America.  They arrived on November 11, 1620 in Cape Cod and a few weeks later sailed up the coast to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

What on earth was the attraction so very long ago?   The Pilgrims were willing to take this dangerous journey by sea, because they did not want to pledge their allegiance to the Anglican Church of England, they wanted freedom of religion!  Therefore they became known as the Separatists.

Keep in mind, the passengers weren’t all Pilgrims, only 41 of the 102 on board were Separatists; the rest of the passengers were called “strangers” by the Pilgrims.  The ship’s passengers included merchants, craftsmen, skilled workers and indentured servants, and several young orphans. All were common people. About one-third of them were children.

Try to envision the situation; 102 people were up against a lot of odds as they embarked on a 3000 mile journey by an ocean where they could encounter fierce storms, pirates, sea sickness, being swept overboard with the possibility of  problems with their ship that could result in death….not to mention … their faith was very different than the “Strangers on board,” so most likely it wasn’t a church pot lock setting. Their ship was a far cry from today’s cruise, as the passengers were the cargo and they stayed below in dark, damp, cold quarters, along with the animals.

Regardless of differences and uncomfortable conditions, regardless of the dangers;  they had a vision and a mission that they were willing to die for. Once they arrived at Plymouth, they settled and begin to build their colony and sadly, that first winter, over half of the colony died to sickness.  In 1621, the health and economic condition of the colonists had improved and that autumn, Governor William Bradford, a passenger on the Mayflower, invited neighboring Indians to Plymouth to celebrate the bounty of that year’s harvest season.  Although battered and many died, they were a people of thanksgiving and great faith.

What a beautiful lesson as we approach this holiday season, remembering the words of Psalm 100:3-5 to enter into HIS gates with Thanksgiving and into HIS courts with praise.  Happy ‘Thanks’giving!

I invite you to join me on my daily spiritual journey at: www.facebook.com/eternitymatterswithnorma

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