Thanksgiving: Caring, Daring, and Sharing

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I have been busy preparing for the occasion.    I am an eager goer because I know my going provides my wife with the ingredients she needs to be the skillful “doer” in the kitchen.  She prepares the list and I go for turkey, ham, yams, apples, or whatever she needs to make one of her delicious meals.

I also think about goers and doers in the context of our Forefathers and their many sacrifices.  Daniel Webster commended the sacrifices of these faith-filled and hardy Pilgrims when he said: Our fathers were brought here by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.

Webster’s words are the “secret sauce” that Kirk Cameron wished for when he began a project that focused on the Forefathers Monument. The sacrifices of these hardy souls is memorialized in this monument that stands an imposing 86 feet high and weighs 180 tons.

Lady Faith is at the center of the monument, and she is seen with her right hand lifted towards heaven as her left hand holds the Bible of the Pilgrims, the Geneva Bible.  

Standing 36 feet tall, Lady faith reminds us of the perseverance of our Forefathers.  Their faith was the source of their strength as they struggled to realize the liberties and freedoms they envisioned; it sustained them and guided through times of heartaches and trials.

Daniel Webster also reminded people of the need to, develop the resources of our land, call forth our powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.

When Webster spoke of his day and his generation, I think he was comparing it to what the Forefathers had done.  Webster knew that if he and his generation were going to doing something worthy to be remembered, their lives had to be more than a selfish existence.

Isn’t this the message of Thanksgiving:  Sacrifice, remembering and giving thanks?  The Pilgrims were not content to just live; they wanted religious freedom for both themselves and future generations. They cared for others and dared for others, so they could also share with others.

…For this I give thanks.

Thanksgiving: A slice of Americana

macySince it began in 1924, Macy’s gift to New York City has become a time-honored tradition.  Macy’s miracle of 34th street is a festive celebration that runs for 2 ½ miles.  Some 3.5 million people will line the parade route to watch this amazing display of giant balloons and unique floats, and another 50 million will watch it at home.

For many people, this is the image they have of Thanksgiving, and it is what they think of as the start of the holiday season.  My thoughts are a bit different.

While I do think of the Pilgrims, the inaugural feast with the Indians and the giving of thanks.  This year, I find myself thinking of January 6, 1923, the year before Macy’s began their parade.

A record of the event was recorded in the pages of Eureka’s newspaper, The Democratic Messenger on January 11, 1923:  Harold Seymour, age 17 and Berta Hughes, age 18 were married by Probate Judge S.L. Chase in Reece, Kansas.

Harold and Berta would move a little east and a little north to Sallyards, a town that is now barren foundations, railroad tracks, cattle, and the Kansas wind blowing across the Flint Hills and through the Bluestem grass.

The white house where Harold and Berta lived is my slice of Americana.  My first memories of Thanksgiving are framed inside this house.  I can still smell Grandma’s cherry pie and chicken and noodles.  I can still see that big smile that lined the wrinkled face of Grandpa Seymour.

Even though I’ve forgotten the name of the songs, the vivid memory of Grandma sitting at the piano is fresh in my mind.  As she played, the family sang, and the clearest voice was Dad’s—a voice that was silenced by an untimely death 50 years ago.

Even though my grandparents, parents, and all but one uncle and one aunt are gone, I still have my slice of Americana.  Every time I pour myself a cup of coffee and eat a slice of cherry pie or dig into a heaping helping of chicken and noodles, I remember what I can’t forget, and I give thanks.

What are some of your memories and your slice of Americana?

Pilgrim Thought

Since Thanksgiving will be observed later this week, it might be good to consider the fundamentals of Scripture that influenced the thoughts of the Pilgrims.  This persecuted group of believers used the principles of the bible as a guide for their lives.  When they read the 10 Commandments, they believed they were exactly that—commandments and not suggestions.

There are some who would argue that morality in itself is a basis for belief in God.  When we speak of a moral argument for the existence of God, it does not mean:

• that a person must believe in God to be moral

• that if a person would ever stop believing in God that he would revert to immoral behavior

• that morality originates from the Bible or that we need religion to be moral

The moral argument is based on the concept of objective moral standards:   Absolute right and wrong exist, and we know this internally.   Does a child need the 10 Commandments to know it is wrong to steal.?  No,  he knows this before he can ever read and cries loudly when he senses he has been wronged.

What about murder?  We don’t need to be taught that murder is wrong, and we don’t need to read the 10 Commandments to know it is wrong; we intuitively know that it is wrong.   The 10 Commandments simply reinforce, in a profound manner, the moral imperatives that we instinctively know to be true.

Those who object to the concept of the moral argument might question:   “If morality is absolute, why do we see so much evil in the world?” To label certain actions as “evil” is to imply the existence of objective moral standards. If there is no moral standard, how can anything be good or evil?

The Pilgrims experienced religion at its worst and suffered in their quest for freedom to worship without the interference of the government.  Because they had the audacity to possess an English bible, read it, and teach it, some of them were burned and others were imprisoned.  It was this sort of corrupted religion that was the motivator for John Bunyan to write Pilgrim’s Progress.

To state it more simply, the moral argument is the realization that there is something in us that insists on right action for the benefit of self and the betterment of all living things.  When the Pilgrims insisted on right action, they were persecuted.  To escape the heavy hand of the Church of England, they eventually made their way to the shores of a new land where they worshipped the God of the bible.

For this, I give thanks . . .

National Monument to the Forefathers

When I reach this point on the calendar each year, my thoughts turn towards Thanksgiving.  I must confess that I think of turkey, candied sweet potatoes, and pie.  More accurately I should say pies—cherry, pecan, and apple.

I think about more than just food.  I also think of the sacrifices of our Forefathers.  Daniel Webster commended the sacrifices of the faith-filled and hardy Pilgrims when he said: Our fathers were brought here by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence though all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.

The sacrifices of our Forefathers are memorialized in the Forefathers Monument.   This monument is the largest granite structure of its kind in America. It stands an imposing 86 feet high and weighs 180 tons.

It is appropriate that at the center of the monument onlookers see a classically draped female entitled Faith. Her right hand is lifted towards heaven and her left hand holds the Bible of the Pilgrims, the Geneva Bible.  She stands 36 feet tall, and she is posed with one foot on Plymouth Rock.

Lady faith reminds us of the faith of our Forefathers.  Their faith was the source of their strength as they struggled to embrace the liberties and freedoms they envisioned.   Their faith sustained them and guided through times of heartaches and trials.

Let me share another quote from Daniel Webster:  Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth our powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.

When Webster spoke of his day and his generation, I think he was comparing it to what the Forefathers had done.  I wonder:  How does the commitment of our present generation look in comparison?

When you give thanks on Thanksgiving, remember to thank God for the generation of our Forefathers.