Thanksgiving

I found some interesting stuff.  I thought I would share it.

How did it all begin?  We know the store of the Mayflower etc.  Perhaps that is an assumption I shouldn’t make given the state of our public schools systems (oops, sorry for the politicking).  Here is the story of the first Thanksgiving on American soil (thank you Wikipedia).  (Personal note – You’ll notice Bass was on the menu.  You can thank God now for fisherman.  You’re welcome).

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England.[2] The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.[3] The feast consisted of fish (cod, eels, and bass) and shellfish (clams, lobster, and mussels), wild fowl (ducks, geese, swans, and turkey), venison, berries and fruit, vegetables (peas, pumpkin, beetroot and possibly, wild or cultivated onion), harvest grains (barley and wheat), and the Three Sisters: beans, dried Indian maize or corn, and squash.[4][2][5][6] The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “Thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.[7]

But I was curious about what set the stage for the journey to begin with?  I found out a little information and have provided links etc. to that info.  This also sheds a little light on the history of the Baptist tradition.

During the sixteenth century several movements sprang up in England hoping to reform the Church of England.  Most called for a return to the simple teachings and practices of the Bible.  

One militant group, the Puritans, were deeply influenced by John Calvin and the reform of the church that he instituted in Geneva.  They were called “Puritans” because they insisted on purity of doctrine and practice in the church.

Another group, the Separatists, were people who had given up hope of reforming the church from within.   They were called “Separatists” because they separated from the Church of England and formed independent congregations.  

While many Separatist congregations were comprised of discouraged and extremist Puritans, Separatism included congregations holding a variety of theological views.    The movement branched into groups as diverse as Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and a variety of independent churches.

The first Baptist church sprang from a Separatist congregation that formed in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire around 1606.  John Smyth became its leader.  Smyth and his congregation believed 1) the Bible, not creeds or church tradition, should be the guide for faith and practice, 2) the church should be consisted only of believers, and 3) the church should be governed by its members and not by bishops.

The Gainsborough church grew so rapidly that the large size of the gathering made it dangerous to meet.  English law forbade separate “conventicles” and congregations.  The congregation divided.  Smyth continued to lead the congregation that remained at Gainsborough.  Another congregation was formed at Scrooby Manor and they elected John Robinson as pastor.  By 1608 both congregations had fled to Holland to escape persecution.  

Robinson’s congregation settled for a time in Leyden.  Among them were William Bradford and William Brewster.  In 1620 Bradford, Brewster led some members of the congregation and others to set sail for America on the Mayflower.  These “Pilgrims” were the founders of the Congregational church in America.

Smyth’s congregation settled in Amsterdam.  Among his congregation was Thomas Helwys.  In Amsterdam the group came in contact with Dutch Mennonites who taught believer’s baptism and advocated religious liberty.  Smyth soon became convinced that infant baptism was invalid and that only believers (people who make a personal profession of faith in Christ) should be baptized.  In 1608/09 Smyth baptized himself and then baptized the other members of his congregation.  

In 1611 Thomas Helwys led a portion of Smyth’s congregation back to London to advocate religious liberty and to establish the first Baptist church on English soil.  Smyth and the bulk of his congregation remained in Holland and eventually united with Frisian-Waterlander Mennonites.

There is also another tradition related to Thanksgiving.

The National Football League‘s Thanksgiving Classic is a series of games played during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It has been a regular occurrence since the league’s inception in 1920. Since 2006, three games are played every Thanksgiving. The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, with one team from each conference playing either team on a rotating basis; a third game, with no fixed opponents, has been played annually since 2006.  The 2010 match-ups include the Detroit Lions versus the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints versus the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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