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Tim Branson: We all know the story about the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth -- the Pilgrims, along with Myles Standish, invite the Indians to a feast to give thanks. But for the Plymouth settlers of 1621, a day of Thanksgiving had a much different meaning.
This is what most of us imagine when we think about the pilgrims -- somber men and women dressed in black and wearing big hats with silver buckles. But much of what we learned about them and the first Thanksgiving is not true. For instance, they didn't call themselves Pilgrims, they considered themselves settlers. Yes, they did have a feast in the fall of 1621. However, they were quite surprised when 90 Wompanoag Indians showed up. While they most certainly gave thanks, they didn't call it a day of Thanksgiving. It was a celebration of a good harvest. We talked to some settlers from the year 1627.
Settler: Now they had a very fine harvest here the first year, much more like they would at home at harvest time with singing and dancing about and playing at games, things of that nature, feasting, things of that sort.
Tim: Unlike the harvest celebration, prayer and worship for God's goodness marked a day of Thanksgiving. The first such day was called for at the end of a two-month drought in 1623.
Settler: So after did the Lord send fair and gentle rain -- which if violent, would be too much for weathered corn. But such gentle rain did come that received and refreshed the corn -- surely without that harvest we would have suffered great.
Tim: What makes it more interesting, is what took place before the rain came -- a day of humiliation.
Settler: The days of humiliation are oft times days of fasting, for it is a way that you may humiliate yourself even further before the Lord. When drought come upon us we had a day of humiliation called by government service. We pray to God an ask what it is you've done and what you need to be forgiven of for what's happened to you -- and that's day of fasting as well. This is a holy day as the Sabbath is.
Tim: This Thanksgiving, we should all be reminded that whether celebrating or giving thanks, prayer is the first step to bringing joy in our lives and peace to our country.
Settler: Every morning we sit and pray as a family both in morning and in evening and throughout our day. I think it's important to keep the Lord close to your heart of course.
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