As we welcome this special day of Thanksgiving, I want to say I know many of you are fatigued from navigating these unusual times as well as navigating work and school and society as a whole. There is lots of guidance on celebrating Thanksgiving with safety in mind for you and your family and we encourage you to do so. Remember it is not how many gather at our tables, but how thankful our hearts remain. An attitude of gratitude is also one of the secrets to resilience that we encourage each other to practice, so Thanksgiving helps us lean into this great truth as well as enjoy time with those closest to us. Thankfulness lifts our hearts and those around us. If you cannot be with those closest to you either because of the pandemic or simply the distance, then remember there is nothing quite like a good call from a family member or friend to brighten the day.
As we continue to navigate these challenging times, we are reminded that the first Thanksgiving was not simply a big meal but a time of true thankfulness. Our forefathers and mothers had endured a very challenging winter and even lost many loved ones, but with the help of their Native American friends planted a crop that turned into a bountiful harvest, so they showed their gratitude by sharing with their new Native American friends. It was a time of unity, celebration and true thankfulness. May it be for us as well.
Edward Winslow, one of 53 colonists who survived the first winter of in Plymouth and records events of the first autumn celebration in 1621 records it this way: "our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Dr TJ Jenney, PhD
Dr. T. J. Jenney, Ph.D. is a seasoned pastor and leader who has served churches as well as served as a campus minister and chaplain for police and fire departments as well as the Air Force Auxiliary. Dr. Jenney also served as a faculty member at Purdue University, serving as an adjunct professor in Organizational Leadership. His experience includes serving as a president and CEO of non-profit organizations. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Higher Education Administration from Purdue and an M.Div and an S.T.M. from Yale University. He served as a contributing editor of William B. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (1989) and Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000), as well as written articles for journals.