232) Pilgrim Thanksgiving (part two)

     … (continued)  Our supply of men from you came the 9th of November, 1621, putting in at Cape Cod, some eight or ten leagues from us.  The Indians that dwell thereabout were they who were owners of the corn which we found in caves, and we are in league with them.  They sent us word there was a ship near unto them, but thought it to be a Frenchman; and indeed for ourselves we did not expect a friend so soon.  But when we perceived that she made for our bay, the governor commanded a firearm to be shot off, to call home such as were abroad at work.  Whereupon every man, yea boy, that could handle a gun, were ready, with full resolution that, if she were an enemy, we would stand in our just defense, not fearing them.  But God provided better for us than we supposed.  These came all in health, not any being sick by the way, otherwise than by sea-sickness, and so continue at this time, by the blessing of God; the good-wife Ford was delivered of a son the first night she landed, and both of them are very well.

     When we are settled and fitted for the fishing business and other trading, I doubt not but by the blessing of God the gain will give plenty to all.  In the meantime, that we have gotten we have sent by this ship; and though it be not much, yet it will witness for us that we have not been idle, considering the smallness of our number all this summer.  We hope the merchants will accept of it, and be encouraged to furnish us with things needful for further employment, which will also encourage us to put forth ourselves to the uttermost.

     Now because I expect your coming unto us, with other of our friends, whose company we much desire, I thought good to advise you of a few things needful.  Be careful to have a very good bread-room to put your biscuits in.  Let your cask for beer and water be iron-bound, if not more.  Let not your meat be dry-salted;  none can better do it than the sailors.  Let your meal be so hard trod in your cask that you shall need a hatchet to work it out with.  Trust not too much on us for corn at this time, for by reason of this last company that came, depending wholly upon us, we shall have little enough till harvest.  Build your cabins as open as you can, and bring good store of clothes and bedding with you.  Bring every man a musket or fowling-piece…  Bring juice of lemons, and take it fasting; it is of good use...  Our Indian corn, even the coarsest, makes as pleasant meat as rice; therefore spare that.  Bring paper and linseed oil for your windows, with cotton yarn for your lamps.  Let your shot be most for big fowls, and bring store of powder and shot.  I forbear further to write for the present, hoping to see you by the next return.

So I take my leave, commending you to the Lord for a safe conduct unto us.

Resting in him,
Your loving friend

Edward Winslow

Plymouth in New England this 11th of December, 1621

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The Mayflower arrived in 1620.  Years later, William Bradford (1590-1657), the first governor of the colony, wrote his “History of Plymouth Plantation.”  In one passage, written in 1650, Bradford recorded the fate of those who came over on the Mayflower.  The following two paragraphs introduce and conclude Bradford’s records of those original settlers.  The original spelling and grammar has not been changed.  Even after writing of the illnesses and early deaths of so many of his fellow travelers, including his own wife, Bradford is still thankful and praises God for preserving the Plymouth Colony:

     “And seeing it hath pleased God to give me to see 30 years compleated, since these beginnings.  And that the great works of his providence are to be observed.  I have thought it not unworthy my paines, to take a view of the decreasings, & Increasings of these persons, and such change as hath pased over them, & theirs, in this thirty years…
     “…Of these 200 persons which came first over, in this first ship together; the greater halfe dyed in the general mortality; and most of them in 2 or three monthes time.  And for those which survived though some were ancient & past procreation; & others left ye place and countrie. yet of those few remaining are sprung up above 160 persons; in these 30 years.  And now living in this presente year 1650, beside many of their children which are dead and come not within this account.  And of the old stock, there are yet living this present year 1650 nere 30 persons. Let the Lord have ye praise; who is the High preserver of men.”

 

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I Chronicles 16:8-9  —  Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  —  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Corinthians 15:56-57  —  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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A GENERAL PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING from the Book of Common Prayer:
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us.  We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.  Amen.