Friday, November 26, 2010

Origins of American Thanksgiving

Most of us have heard the stories about the origins of the first Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims and their friends during a bitterly cold winter. Here is a link I think you will appreciate from The Wall Street Journal that expands that story and adds some wonderfully inspiring details.

This story reminds me of the long term implications of Christin charity. What might seem to be rather small instances of caring can blossom into lasting celebrations of love, family gatherings and positive attitudes of compassion.

A few years ago Steve Griebling and I were in Moscow, Russia on Thanksgiving. The Russians were fascinated by our nation including a National Holiday of Thanks to God for His blessings.

The recently fallen Communist state had banned all kinds of references to God and forbade either implicitly or explicitly most people from attending church or wearing symbols of Christianity. So my friends were hungry for ways to show appreciation to God and to thank God for their new found liberty.

Galina's sister, Irena, was the Head Mistress of a Christian based school that served the children of wealthy parents. Irena had founded the school in order to make sure these newly wealthy families had some good, solid Christian values in the midst of the harsh, bitter, selfish Communist and atheist values.

So, Irena invited Steve and me to share the story of Thanksgiving with her students. She gathered them in a warm room and introduced us by saying something like this. "We all know that America is the richest and most powerful nation on earth and in history. When we look at how Americans live we can see why. There are two signs of where their strength comes from inn their money and their national holidays. First, their money has inscribed on it, "In God we trust." No other nation has their faith in God so plainly established.

Second, America even has a national holiday to thank God. Steve Griebling and Gary Sweeten are here today to tell us how that holiday was established and why. If we in Russia are ever to become a strong and prosperous as America it will be because we also show that we live by God's laws and God's love."

Steve and I spent an hour discussing Thanksgiving with these wonderfully bright and curious children. They asked many questions and had many interesting and insightful comments, all in perfect English.

May God continually remind us of His blessings and His watch care as we spend money He has brought to us and the lives we live under His oversight.

Pass it on.

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