The wind is whirling through a stolid old oak tree outside my window, capturing leaves with its invisible fingers and twirling them like little ballerinas. I love November with its vivd colors and chilly breezes and frosty nights, all playing their parts in the prelude to winter.
November also reminds me of those brave souls whose collective thought was “we ought to obey God rather than man” and then risked their lives on the sea, desiring a fresh start in a land where they could enjoy liberty of conscience and freedom from the coercive dictates of both civil and religious tyrants.
A rough beginning would be an understatement—many of the Pilgrims died the first winter—but the 53 survivors continued resolutely onward and finally celebrated “Harvest Home” the following fall when God prospered them with an abundance of food. Edward Winslow, a leader and signer of the Mayflower Compact, writes:
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” (Psalm 50:23) If you have children, you know the challenge of instilling a sense of thankfulness in them. We’re all born with a will bent on entitlement, not a heart overflowing with gratitude.
But God awakens thanksgiving in us as He pours out His love in Christ. Thanksgiving works from the inside out as an experience of the love of God that leaves us with “a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart,” a gift in itself after our subdued hearts grasp the undeserved mercies of grace.
I often find myself no different from a myopic child, forgetting God’s goodness, unmoved by His mercies, walking through a day with my thoughts wrapped firmly around the horizontal. How I need to “taste and see that God is good,” and that He’s good to me! This is a battle won only by prayer.
And God does answer such a prayer. My heart has been rising in gratitude this week as I’ve recorded the blessings of each day, recognizing the hand of my Father in the beauty that surrounds me—the beauty of relationships, the beauty of fellowship, the beauty of creation.
But it’s so much more than this. I’ve been redeemed by the amazing grace of God who has qualified me (through the finished work of Christ) “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Be still my soul and ponder this—I was created for thanksgiving. I was redeemed to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Could there be any better news in a thousand lifetimes?
As we gather together with family and friends to celebrate God’s extravagant love and goodness, I pray our homes will be places of joyful cultivation, where Kingdom seeds are planted and nurtured, where souls young and old are fed and watered with grace, where the Word of God flourishes, and where peace reigns.
[The featured photo of the Mayflower was taken by Raime – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2545612%5D
Thanksgiving Place Cards
I printed my place cards on Avery Postcards/Index Cards stock (four cards per sheet) perforated for easy separation, but any 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock will work just fine. I’ve provided two files, one with cutting lines and one without them.
This JPG file is for use with Avery Postcards/Index Cards (no cutting lines). Right-click to download, then print, separate, and fold each card in half.
This file has horizontal and vertical cutting lines for use with card stock.