Geneva United Methodist Church
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Pastoral Message

It is November already, and that gets most people thinking about
giving thanks. And it also gets many people thinking about family
get-togethers, parades, football, all the holiday shopping left to do,
decorating, and of course, a huge meal that leaves us practically
comatose as our bodies struggle to deal with all of the extra calories
we have consumed!

Americans commonly trace Thanksgiving back to a 1621 celebration
at the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, where the settlers, known
as “Pilgrims,” held a harvest feast after their first successful growing
season in their new settlement. Squanto, a Pawtuxet Native American
who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to
catch eels and grow corn, and served as an interpreter for them.
Squanto had learned English during his time as a slave in England
after being captured. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit had given
food to the colonists during their first winter when the supplies they
had brought from England turned out to be insufficient. The Pilgrims
celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621.
The exact date of the celebration is unknown, but many historians
believe the event occurred between September 21 and November 11,
with the most likely date being around the English holiday of
Michaelmas (September 29). The meal was not described as a
thanksgiving observance, but instead was more of a harvest
celebration. The celebration included 50 Pilgrims who had come over
from England on the Mayflower and survived the first winter (all who
remained of the 100 Pilgrims who had landed at Plymouth), and about
90 Native Americans mostly from the Wampanoag tribe and other
tribes in the area. The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim
women who survived the first winter in the New World (Eleanor
Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White),
along with their young daughters, and male and female servants.

We tend to romanticize this first Thanksgiving, and the way it
portrayed sharing, generosity and cooperation between European
settlers and the indigenous peoples who were already living here.
Unfortunately, this moment in time appears to be one of the few
bright spots in a relationship that has mostly been tragic and hostile.
Recent events over the Dakota Access Pipeline in the Dakotas and
other incursions onto lands held to be sacred by native peoples
reinforce the strained and violent relationship we have historically
had with each other. Whatever the case, we all need to focus at this
time more on giving thanks for what God has given to us, and on the
love and caring for our neighbors, especially those who are different
than us. This is especially true as we all try to heal the wounds
inflicted by several recent divisive election seasons, and caustic
partisan government wrangling. After all, we are all beloved children
of God created in God’s own image. We are all sisters and brothers.
And if we really and truly believe that, then how can we even think
about treating others any differently and with any less love and caring
than we would our own flesh and blood family! May it be so.

Happy Thanksgiving! Pastor Randy