One of the Pilgrims who came on the Mayflower to America from England was a man by the name of William Bradford. Bradford, who was elected Governor of Plymouth Colony is the man most usually associated with the first Thanksgiving proclamation.
Before coming to America, when William Bradford was about twelve years old, he attended a church service which was very different from the formal church services of the Church of England. The members of this church were Puritans. These Puritans believed that the Church should be purified from what they believed to be unbiblical doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. But the members of this church were more than Puritans they were also Separatists. As Separatists they believed that the Church of England was little different from the Roman Catholic Church and so they separated themselves from the Church of England.
Bradford began to attend this Separatist church regularly and became a member of the church at the age of 17. As a member, Bradford was fully committed to the idea of separating from the official Church of England, but separation was dangerous because Separatist leaders were being persecuted, hunted, imprisoned, and often tortured. Because of this persecution, Bradford encouraged the Separatists to immigrate. First they immigrated to Holland then they immigrated to America.
Bradford and the other Separatists believed strongly in the providence of God. They believed that God was all-powerful and directs the affairs of mankind. After arriving in the New World, Bradford wrote:
After many difficulties in boisterous storms, at length, by God's providence, upon the ninth of November following, by break of the day we espied land which was deemed to be Cape Cod, and so afterward it proved. And the appearance of it much comforted us . . . and . . . caused us to rejoice together, and praise God that had given us once again to see land.
From these and other writings it is clear that Bradford believed strongly in God's sovereign work in bringing these first Christians to America.
Life was difficult for these Pilgrims. Many died as a result of sickness and other difficulties. They had arrived in December, by the spring, forty-six of the original 102 Mayflower passengers were dead. Sometimes two and three people died on the same day. Even Bradford, who was elected Governor of the colony, lost his wife when she fell overboard and drowned. Yet in spite of the dangers and trials they faced, these heroic men and women never lost their faith in a good God. After surviving a very difficult first winter the pilgrims received help from Native Americans who helped the pilgrims learn to fish and grow vegetables. After a successful harvest of beans, corn, and squash, Bradford proclaimed a day to give thanks to God for his provisions.
When Bradford returned thanks to God for his goodness he quoted from the Bible, Psalm 107
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.1
Bradford and his fellow colonists never lost their faith in God's goodness despite the many unimaginable trials and difficulties. So too we too must never lose sight of the fact and reality of God's goodness. Just as Bradford turned to the word of God which reminds us of God's goodness so too, at this time of year that we call "Thanksgiving", we should turn to God's word and read again about his goodness. We should give thanks to God for his goodness and lovingkindness, for our redemption, for our church family, and we should give thanks for God's provisions.
Giving Thanks to God for all things,
Pastor Steve Lorenz
November 23rd, 2017
1Psalm 107:1; THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All other references to the Bible are from the NIV.
Annual Congregational Meeting
Sunday, December 10th, after worship service
Christmas Eve Candle-light service, Sunday, December 24th, 7:00pm
Weekly and monthly activities
Praise Team rehearsal
Sunday morning worship service - 10:45a.m.
Tuesday Prayer Meeting
Tuesday Ladies Bible Study