Monday, November 25, 2019

Celebrating Thanksgiving in America

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de OƱate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.” 7

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are…far from want.” 10 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends 11 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

Picture in the Public Domain.

Fred Rogers - "His Life Was His Sermon"

Fred Rogers and President George W. Bush as Rogers receives
the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Picture in Public Domain
I grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood with my mother in the 1970's. Once, I dreamed at night I was actually in the Land of Make-Believe! 

Many years later, my wife enjoyed watching the same show with our three little ones.

As the new Mr. Rogers movie, starring Tom Hanks, is in theaters, Fred's wife recently wrote the following at Guideposts . . .

The first time I set eyes on Fred Rogers was in 1947. I was a student at Rollins College in Florida, and he was a freshman at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, who decided that he wanted to major in music. Dartmouth did not have a music degree program at that time. A music professor there suggested he come down to Winter Park to see Rollins. Our music composition teacher said we should all go greet him, so we piled into a very big, elderly Franklin car to meet this new prospect at the airport. And so it was that this unhappy Dartmouth student was welcomed by a dozen happy Rollins music students!

It must have worked because he decided to transfer to Rollins. We became good friends, then a couple. He impressed us because he could sit at the piano and play all kinds of music by ear that none of us could play without the score. After I graduated in 1950, I went to Florida State University for a master’s degree in music. After Fred graduated in 1951, he moved to New York City to do an apprenticeship at NBC in this new thing called television. I got a letter from him in late spring proposing marriage! I felt he deserved a quick response, quicker than writing back, so I went to a phone booth on campus…. I must have put in a million dimes! 'Yes!' I said. 'Yes.'

The wedding was July 9, 1952. Fred and I spent our first year together in New York, and Fred continued at NBC. In 1953, he heard from his father about plans for an educational TV station in Pittsburgh—near their home in Latrobe. Fred landed a job with this brave group and joined the first community educational television station, WQED. And so we settled in Pittsburgh."

Read the entire article, How Mr. Rogers Spread God's Love Everywhere - here.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Hear My Devotion

Click here to listen to my recent devotion, "God's Redirections," at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Friday, November 1, 2019

A Living Demonstration

“We may preach a God of love, but if nonbelievers do not observe visible love within those ministries or churches and Christian organizations, then we undermine the credibility of our message.

‘The medium is the message,’ to use Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase. And for Christians, the medium is the way we treat one another.

In the days of the early church, the thing that most impressed their neighbors in the Roman Empire was the community of love they witnessed among believers. ‘Behold how they love one another,’ it was said.

In every age, the most persuasive evidence for the gospel is not words or arguments but a living demonstration of God’s character through Christians’ love for one another, expressed in both their words and their actions.”