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2 Corinthians 9:6-15

6The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9As it is written,  “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;   his righteousness endures forever.” 10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

This reading is one of the assigned readings for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving. Your gatherings this year are probably looking different than last year. My prayer for you and your loved ones is that you are all safe and healthy.

No matter where you are today, I invite you to give thanks for what God has given us today. Give thanks.

There is a special place in my heart for Thanksgiving, for my ancestor, John Howland, was on the Mayflower. The story of Howland and his fellow Pilgrims is, especially this year, a reminder that we can find a place to give thanks even in a difficult time.

Here is a video about my ancestor.

Needless to say, there are many who share my thankfulness that John Howland got back on that boat!

When we think of the first Thanksgiving, we picture a celebration that is warm and cozy, with a lavish spread and over-indulgence as we know Thanksgiving to be today. But these images are not so true. After two months of confinement on the Mayflower, the pilgrims anticipated the balmy weather of Virginia, which they had been told to expect. However, already weakened from the voyage, they landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. They arrived in a bitter winter storm in December, 1620.

They arrived in New England with only enough food to make it through the first winter. They planted a communal garden in the summer but the settlers didn't know how to plant Indian corn and the crop was small. In November of 1621, more pilgrims arrived without adequate provisions. There was only enough food for six months if everyone took half their rations.

After a second hard winter, another ship arrived in May of 1622, with seven more pilgrims and some letters, but no food! The food supply was almost gone and the people were starving. People began stealing from the community garden, which was not working as they had hoped. Another ship arrived later in 1622 with little food. The daily ration was down to a quarter-pound of bread a day.

Yet another winter passed, and in 1623, the settlers decided to parcel out the land to individual families and let the families tend their crops. When they planted their seeds, they were deeply concerned about their crops.

Governor Bradford noted that they really meant it when the prayed for their daily bread! But with the assistance and guidance of the Native Americans, the gardens finally brought forth their bounty.

In the autumn of 1623, the harvest was finally a great success. In this spirit of deep gratitude to God, Governor Bradford declared a day of Thanksgiving. A time of Thanksgiving? Of the eighteen wives on the Mayflower, only five lived to see that first Thanksgiving Day three years later. Those who died included the parents, aunt and uncle of John Howland’s wife, Elizabeth Tilley. Only one half of the ship's original roster survived to eat that first meal of Thanksgiving!

So, although we may picture a well-fed people, surrounding a festive, food-fare, it is better for us to recall that this first Thanksgiving Day was an act of praise and gratitude to God:

For a little bread instead of none!

For a slim hold on life in place of death!

For a glimmer of hope in an otherwise uncertain future!

It was not what they hoped for, but God was with them, and they thanked God for all that was good.

And on that first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims placed on their plates five kernels of corn to remember the great suffering of the first settlers, the severe rationing that they suffered through. Yes, they accepted the gift and remembered to say Thank You to the giver! That is what Thanksgiving is all about!

What are you thankful for? Do you find it difficult to give thanks in all circumstances? I encourage you to pause, reflect, and rejoice in what blessings God gives you this day.

God’s love for us is so great, that God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ to the world. Jesus comes to offer the touch of healing, and the gift of wholeness. Jesus gives us life. Jesus grants us forgiveness. All that is good is a gift from God!

Accept the gift and give thanks to the giver. That is what Thanksgiving is all about! Happy Thanksgiving! Amen!

Let us Pray: Almighty God, Thank you for today. Thank you for your boundless love. Thank you for the bounty of the harvest. Bless our families and friends. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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