By Tyson Thorne

November 23, 2017

I understand that Thanksgiving is a wholly American holiday and some of our readers in the international community may feel a little left out, or possibly slighted by a shorter entry on this day. I am trusting that any such emotions will be thwarted by today’s passage. In fact, I highly recommend reading these verses aloud. More than once. Let them wash over you. It is my Thanksgiving Day wish that they would come to characterize every believer on this day, the day America celebrates its traditions and foundation.

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, 2:2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. 2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. 2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. – Philippians 2.1-4

Wikipedia tells us that “Thanksgiving, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States.” This might explain the origins of the holiday, but not the events that inspired them.

The Pilgrims were among the first to settle the New World, and their accomplishments of establishing the first government on these shores, along with the signing of the Mayflower Compact, can eclipse who they were as a people. Specifically, they were protestant Christians. Having broken free from the Church of England, they valued freedom to be sure but valued the Bible and their savior above all else. They rejected every religious practice that could not be confirmed by scripture, and the first meal with Native Americans was an extension of their beliefs in the Messiah.

That first Thanksgiving meal (though it wasn’t called such until a decade later), was a large social affair. There were more Native Americans in attendance than Pilgrims, but the new comers shared out of the bounty of their first harvest. Instead of Turkey, deer was at the top of the menu. Each Pilgrim modeled the very attitudes Paul promotes in today’s passage.

If I had one wish for today, it would be that all Jesus-Followers everywhere, in every nation, would set aside their squabbles and pains and do as the Pilgrims did, exhibiting the very character of Christ. Next week we will continue our study of Philippians.

This was the world of Jesus and the early church.

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