Thanksgiving Despite a Pandemic
(Posted November 20, 2020)
“... for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me...” Jesus at the Last Judgment, Matthew 25, this Sunday’s gospel
This is a Sunday to bring more than just yourselves to Church whether in person or online. Not only is it our annual Thanksgiving Sunday celebration. It’s also the day that our Outreach Committee awards support to some of our most helpful community nonprofits. It’s the day that you can bring nonperishable food, canned goods – especially canned coffee for Interfaith Aids – and also cat food and kitty litter for the charity that saves four legged creatures in need. (You can also drop these items off at church before Sunday).
Pilgrim's 400th Anniversary
We also observe the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the people from which we as a church can trace our spiritual roots –- those religious separatists known today as the Pilgrims. Four Hundred years ago in September, 105 men, women and children departed from Leyden, thence to London, and then across the Atlantic -- not to Plymouth, but first to Provincetown Harbor in a November 11th storm. After the harsh voyage only half of them were alive to see that day.
Church Services on Sunday
In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Please observe these social distancing guidelines when you worship with us.
Going Forward in a New Land
Their stay in the harbor would be short, as the local Nauset Native Americans had already had unpleasant dealings with earlier English explorers. So after a few days the Mayflower sailed across Cape Cod Bay to land in Plymouth on December 16. 1620. They were a mixed group: The Pilgrims who left to escape religious persecution and to find a place where they could practice their Bible-centered worship, and a band of entrepreneurs who had come to seek land and fortune, not any spirituality.
The Mayflower survivors were mostly men – so many of the women died en-route. Were it not for the friendly Wampanoag natives who took care of them that first winter, there probably wouldn’t have been a First Thanksgiving. At the same time no one knew that the Westerners brought with them pandemic after pandemic of illnesses to which the native population had no resistance. In the three decades that followed, close to 90 percent of Native Americans perished across the continent.
Gratitude and Culture
As it was in 1620, there was already an unspoken but widening gap between the culture of the natives and the westernized European arrivals. For Native Americans there was never any thought that any human being could actually own the land, as Westerners did. The land belonged to the Great Spirit, and humans shared it, which was how they viewed the arrival of the Mayflower remnant. And in contrast as well, in Wampanoag culture every day started out in prayers of gratitude for all that nature provided them. They didn’t need to designate a day as the new arrivals did to thank God for their blessings.
But this Sunday we will proclaim our thanks for the blessings we have, and may have rediscovered in these pandemic times, and lift up the people and organizations who answered the call: “For I was hungry and you gave me food…”
Please join us. We turn toward Advent next week.