And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. (Leviticus 22:29)
November 11, 2020 commemorated the landing of the merchant ship Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. She left port at Southampton on September 16, 1620 with 102 Pilgrims and about 30 crew members onboard and arrived in the “Promised Land” about three months later.
Before setting foot on the new land, and because Plymouth was not their intended destination, the Pilgrims convened to establish an agreement for self-governance of the colony. That document, known as the Mayflower Compact, served as a model for the founding documents of our nation. The first sentence of that document, following all the legal formal language, stated the purpose of the colony, i.e., “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith…”
The small band arrived in the harshest of New England winters. They were unable to build suitable shelters, so they spent the winter onboard the Mayflower. By the time they finally disembarked at the end of March 1621, almost half of their company had died of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
Once on land and with the help of some Indians, they planted crops and built houses for themselves. At harvest time (the date is not recorded), they joined together with the Indian tribes that helped them to offer thanksgiving to God for providing for them even through extremely difficult times.
The Pilgrims did not celebrate a particular day of thanksgiving; rather, they made a practice of thanking God daily for His care and provision – a practice we all should follow. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15)
We should offer God our sacrifice of thanksgiving daily, not just on the fourth Thursday of November.