DONOVAN “MARK” QUIMBY
Thanksgiving Day is our opportunity to express our individual and national thankfulness — gratitude — to God for His blessings, including freedom that allows us to make self-defining spiritual and secular choices that should include repentance and humility.
Thanksgiving is exemplified through the hardships and blessings experienced by those religious freedom-seekers whom we label “The Pilgrims.” This English Protestant, Calvinist congregation wanted the Anglican Church purified of non-Biblical practices, hence called puritans, who also wanted complete separation from England’s Anglican Church, hence called Separatists. Their non-Separatist theological cousins — “The Puritans” — arrived in the 1630s by the thousands and consequently became more influential than the Pilgrims.
Before returning to the Pilgrims, let’s recall that John Winthrop, the Puritan’s Massachusetts Bay Colony leader, referenced Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:14 in a 1630 sermon. Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” U.S. Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama identified America as “a city on a hill” — a beacon of liberty — but this once blessing to the world is now devoid of Judeo-Christian morally.
On November 11, 1620, 102 Pilgrims anchored off Provincetown Harbor, Massachusetts before establishing Plymouth Colony as described in Pilgrim leader William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation.” Forty-five Pilgrims died during the winter (1620-1621). Come spring, English-speaking Pawtuxet Indian Squanto taught the Pilgrims Indian agriculture. That fall, after they’d “gathered the fruits of their labors,” Bradford declared it time to “rejoice together… after a more special manner” for spiritual devotion and a traditional harvest festival. This celebration, which was labeled “The First Thanksgiving” in the 19th Century, included 50 surviving Pilgrims who brought corn, squash, beans, barley, and peas, ducks, and geese to share with roughly 100 Wampanoag Indians who brought deer.
For what were the Pilgrims thankful? The Pilgrims were surely thankful for God’s individual and communal blessings, just as we should be thankful for individual and national blessings. They praised God for their harvest and possibly prayed for future harvests. They’d have thanked God for accepting the 52 departed souls of their beloveds and for sparing their lives, just as we thank God for our lives. Charles Dickens’ advice, “Reflect upon your blessings, of which everyone has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which everyone has some.”
National blessings are more complex. The Trinitarian God is the ultimate God of nations, “… (The Lord) rules over the nations (Psalm 22:28)” and history. Therefore, we’re to be governed and live in a righteous manner, according to God’s precepts. But today’s morality isn’t Biblical. Hence, is God blessing America, as He’s historically done, or is He affirming Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright’s avid request, “God damn America.” We’d best respond to God’s promise, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). This Thanksgiving, let’s reflect and correct, individually and nationally so America and we endure.
Donovan “Mark” Quimby is a resident of Frederick County.