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.