Would you risk your life and the lives of your children to come to church this Sunday? It is a serious question!
For William Bradford, the answer was yes. Bradford was 33 years old. He was the leader of a group of people who sailed for a new life in the new world. The group experienced famine, cold and sickness. Yet, Bradford, called everyone together for thanksgiving and worship.
495 years ago, Governor Bradford proclaimed that Thursday, November 29th, 1623 would be a day of Thanksgiving and corporate worship. This day marked the third year since these pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Over half of their group died in the brutal first year of their new colony. Why did they make the journey? Why did they endure the hardship? And why did the 33 year old Bradford call them together on that November day?
The answer: they came to worship their God in freedom!
Would you risk losing your life, the lives of your children and all that you have just for the privilege engaging in corporate worship that honored God and not the State?
Thanksgiving Day is not about turkey and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving Day is not primarily about family and the good provision you enjoy. Thanksgiving Day began in joyful gratitude for the blessing of God to worship him in freedom. These Pilgrims, a literal handful of people, endured because of a fierce desire to be free to worship the Living God of the Bible.
Thanksgiving Day is first and foremost a day that celebrates the freedom to worship the only true Lord of Heaven and Earth.
Read Bradford’s proclamation:
Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
Ye Governor of Ye Colony