Thanksgiving and a rough history…

It’s honestly my favorite holiday.

The feeling of family coming together with celebration in mind.

The warmth of the heater that reflects the recent change in season and temperature outside.

The smells of turkey and goodness being made HOWEVER you want it.

Throw in football, great seasonal foods, awesome family traditions and it’s a winner.

I love Thanksgiving.

But when one looks at the origins of our thanksgiving celebration, it isn’t so nice. We dress it up as being a fun event, every school play looks fun and appealing. But in actuality is it the way we always portray it in the school plays?

What seems like a fun celebration of a meal for me is a bad memory in history for many native American’s. I think of the first thanksgiving and I think of a big meal between native American’s and Pilgrims that has laughter, fun and ultimately represents a true picture of peace, Shalom.

Doing some reading and research about this, I was shocked to find out that there were some not so nice details that are left out of our school plays.

The journal entry of a colonist during the time depicts going into homes and taking food, with the intent of possibly paying back in the future. As well he tells of finding food and goods buried in the ground and putting bodies back after taking the items. This is grave robbing. Finally the journal entry concludes with giving thanks to God for the things they had found and “for how else could we have done it without meeting some Indians who might trouble us”.

The speech of Wamsutta James in 1970 that was to be given at Plymouth Rock tells of all these details. He describes how his people did have a feast with the pilgrims. He tells of how this was the beginning of the end for a majority of his people. This speech wasn’t allowed to be given at Plymouth Rock though.

When hearing about atrocities like this, we can have either of these responses:

A) Ignore and downplay it. (ie “that was a long time ago”, “let the past be the past”.)

B) Seek to understand its significance for the sake of reconciliation (“Because of the pain your people have been through, I will seek to understand your history and become more culturally sensitive”)

Those are two polar opposite responses. unfortunately, when it comes to race relations in the US, the responses I see out of many evangelical Christians leans more towards (A) then (B).

My hopes as we prepare to use this time of the year to thank God for his blessings is that we also don’t ignore the sins of the past that have put our society in the place that it is. Let’s count the blessings God has given us. Let’s look back at the sins of our past and thank him for his mercy and grace to forgive us for these atrocities. Let’s seek reconciliation and restoration for the relationships of those our fathers and forefathers have sinned against.

And in all this let’s never let go of the cross which unites all of us as needing a savior.

For more info…

6 responses to “Thanksgiving and a rough history…

  1. Hey Mark, interesting thoughts! I think we ought to be racially reconciled all around under the banner of Christ. 🙂

    Although what I am about to say is not PC, I pray it will be taken in the straightforward way it is intended. I think most people go toward (A) not because they are crazy racists, but rather because they are more or less being reactionary. I think (white people anyway) get defensive and feel attacked. But more than this, white people are tired of white guilt. That is to say, many whites don’t believe they should be blamed for something that took place decades (or even centuries) before they were born. The un-PC reality is that many members of ethnic and racial groups hold racist attitudes toward white people. The PC reality (though it certainly is reality) is that many whites still hold racist attitudes toward ethnic minorities. My only proposal is that every member of every group work under the headship of Jesus Christ through his church toward racial reconciliation–myself included! 🙂

    • Randy, thanks tons for the read and comment.

      I agree that white guilt can be something that people get tired of. I think the hard part of the other side of the coin is that meanwhile, injustice in the past continues to spill into present day circumstances.
      I love that last sentence you ended with. Amen. Viewing each other through the lens of the cross. Under the head of Christ.

      Thanks again!

  2. Great read Mark. I love how you wrapped that up.

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