Our forebear's first Thanksgiving was celebrated in this land in the face of a wilderness of many unknowns. But they were grateful. Who wouldn't be thankful, after spending weeks in tumultuous waters, experiencing the perils of a great ocean tossing their small ship about?
How dear the landing must have been, for they still had life and limb, and the precious gift of hope, which had never left them. Together they worshiped, expressing great gratitude to God, that wasn't commonplace by any means. Now the Pilgrims could worship as they pleased, and govern themselves in ways considerate of everyone. They were free! They could fashion a new life in the wilderness with God's help, a life they had yearned for so long.
As I thought of those early settlers, I felt a sense of pride. What a venture! Valuing one another, they had a sense of unity, and with God's help they would succeed. One can almost envision them on that first Thanksgiving Day, giving thanks together.
Now we have taken their place. The Bible has a remarkable and arresting word for people in every age: "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (I Thessalonians 5:16) And so let us pray in the light of God's word and in the face of the noble and cherished effort of a distant past:
"Dear God, we acknowledge our great need of your mercy and guidance in the building of this great nation, started so long ago. We acknowledge our incompleteness and our differences that have tried the spirit of this nation. Our selfishness and thoughtlessness have embarrassed us before the world. Dear God, help us to seek the highest good, with liberty and justice for all. Nurture us by your grace, that we may have charity toward all.
"Thank you for every opportunity to do your will. Awaken us! Help us to get back on track with the grand and noble experiment that you have ordained. We are grateful that you hear us always, and we pray for Your guidance that we may stand tall in the midst of a needful and watching world. Amen."
Dr. Lamb is parish associate at First Presbyterian Church, Charleston