Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

In September 1620, a group of 102 people boarded a cargo ship called the Mayflower and set sail for the Americas. They crossed the Atlantic in a boat that was 26 feet by 112 feet, spending 63 days in her cargo hold, and landed on the New England coast during a bitter cold winter. At times that first year the daily ration of those who were well was only five kernels of corn. In early New England, it was the custom at Thanksgiving time to place five kernels of corn at every plate as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was so depleted that only five kernels of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrim Fathers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, sufferings, and hardships through which they had safely passed — a fitting hardship that made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They wanted to keep alive the memory of that 2 month long trip taken in the tiny Mayflower. They desired to keep alive the thought of that stern and rock-bound coast, its inhospitable welcome, and the first terrible winter which took such a toll of lives. They did not want their descendants to forget that on that day in which their rations was reduced to five kernels of corn, only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and that nearly half their members, 45 to be exact, lay in the windswept graveyard on the hill.

After suffering every kind of hardship imaginable, they had a harvest of 21 acres of corn and in the fall of 1621, they immediately offered thanks to God for His blessings. This little group led by Gov. William Bradford marched triumphantly through the cornfields singing, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” Then they sat down to a meal in gladness and joy. They were going to give thanks to God no matter what.

Paul tells us here that we should rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. This year has been a difficult year. Political Unrest. Social upheaval. Violence and lawlessness. Covid-19 pandemic. I mean it feels as if the hits just keep on coming. This morning on the treadmill I was watching Good Morning America and they were talking about how to host your own virtual Thanksgiving. Really? #2020 I guess.

This year whether you have a big get together at Thanksgiving or just a small intimate gathering. Whether you are healthy or a little sick. Whether your finances are plentiful or miniscule. Whether your preferred candidate won the election or not. Even though we are still unsure what tomorrow holds…..let’s thank the One who holds tomorrow. Place 5 kernels of corn at each plate in your house, tell this story to your family, and be reminded of just how good God really is. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. If you’re saved you’ve got all you need, so let’s give thanks in all circumstances. He’s bigger. He’s greater. He’s better….and He loves us with an everlasting love! Happy Thanksgiving!

Father God, this has been a hard year. Forgive me Father for losing sight of your goodness at times. Thank You Lord for your many blessings, and help me to recognize today what are true spiritual blessings. In Jesus name, amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.