Sermon title:

What’s Wrong with Thanksgiving?

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, November 22, 2020

 

 

 

The history books tell us how, centuries ago,

ships sailed across the water from Europe.

 

They arrived at a new land

populated by natives they considered uncivilized.

 

They viewed the natives as savages

who needed to be ruled over for their own benefit.

 

And those who came from across the water

were able to rule over them,

because they brought with them

superior technology and weaponry

that the natives couldn’t match.

 

The European invaders completely changed the land

they came to occupy—

replacing the native culture with their own.

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Now, you might think I’ve been talking about

the Europeans who came to America 400 years ago

and supplanted the Native Americans.

 

But I was actually describing the Roman

conquest and colonization of Britain.

 

Europeans under the command of Julius Caesar

crossed the waters of the English Channel

more than 2,000 years ago,

to begin the Roman conquest of England.

 

Writing about the land across the water

that he intended to conquer,

Caesar described the British as uncivilized,

not cutting their hair,

wearing animal skins for clothing,

and using a blue dye from plants

to color their bodies blue.

 

And Caesar said that these English savages

shared their wives among groups of 10 or 12 men.

 

The Romans viewed their own civilization as far superior,

and thought it only natural

that they should rule over the British

and take control of their land.

 

And the Roman Empire did, in fact,

rule England for 400 years.

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I bring this up because this is Thanksgiving week.

 

And there are many left-wing liberals in this country

who try to put Americans into a guilt trip—

to make us feel so guilty for coming here

and taking this land from the Indians,

that we should be ashamed

and stop celebrating Thanksgiving Day.

 

For example, one Wikipedia article says,

"Thanksgiving is considered by some

to be a ‘national day of mourning,’

as a celebration of the genocide and conquest

of Native Americans by colonists."

 

The same people supply the ideology

that leads violent mobs in the streets

to tear down statues of Christopher Columbus.

 

Around 3 dozen statues of Columbus

were toppled or vandalized and removed

all across America this year—

from Boston and New Haven to

Sacramento and San Francisco—

to protest European colonization of America.

 

But the fact is that human history

is the history of one civilization conquering another—

one culture replacing another—

not just in North America,

but in England, in the Middle East,

in Africa—actually everywhere.

 

The Romans abandoned England

after ruling there for 400 years,

and then the Saxons from Germany came in

and dominated the land for a century,

imposing a Germanic culture.

 

After them came the Angles, another group from Europe,

and their domination led to

the former Roman province of Britannia

coming to be called Angle-Land or “England.”

 

And, after another 500 years, the famous Battle of Hastings

resulted in the Normans from France

taking over England

and imposing their own culture

on the native peoples

and the previous conquerors.

 

So, there was nothing unusual about

Europeans taking over the Americas

and overwhelming the Indians or Native Americans.

 

That was just one instance

of the same sort of thing happening all over the earth,

to one national group after another,

all down through human history.

 

It was not some horrific crime

that we Americans need to repent of today

by replacing Thanksgiving Day

with a day of mourning

for the Indian tribes that lost their land.

 

Before the European colonists arrived,

those Indian tribes

had been fighting among themselves

and conquering and subduing and even

enslaving one another,

and taking land from one another—

just as the tribes of European white men

were doing to each other

back in England and the rest of Europe.

 

The only reason why

the European colonization of the Americas

looked different,

was because of the vast oceans

separating Europe from the Americas,

leaving each group ignorant

of the other’s existence.

 

If they had been closer together

and more in touch with each other,

they would have been fighting and conquering

each other all down through the centuries—

just as all the nations did to each other.

 

As soon as the New World was mapped out,

the British and French

divided North America between themselves,

and the Spanish and Portuguese

divided Central and South America.

 

The native people’s spears and bows and arrows

were no match for the Europeans’

pistols, rifles and cannons,

just as the rag-tag English forces

Julius Caesar encountered

were no match for the professional fighters

of the Roman Legions.

 

But, centuries before Caesar,

the Romans themselves were defeated by Africans,

when African general Hannibal

marched into Italy with an army of 100,000 troops

led by armored elephants from Africa.

 

At that time the Roman infantry and cavalry

were thrown into a frightful panic

at the very sight of the war elephants.

 

The Romans were overpowered

by the North Africans’ superior fire power,

just as Native American Indians

were overpowered by the guns and cannons

of the European colonists.

 

Such has been the history of mankind

over the thousands of years

since the families of man spread abroad

as the earth was re-populated

after the Flood of Noah’s day.

 

One national group has

overpowered and subjected another

all down through human history.

 

European colonization and settlement of the Americas

was nothing new or out of the ordinary.

 

It’s much like what happened in England,

when the Brits were subjected by the Romans

and then later by the Saxons

and the Saxons were later subjected by the Angles

and the Angles were stomped on by the Normans.

 

So, why the big fuss today?

 

Why do protesters in Plymouth

hold protests at Plymouth Rock,

and try to turn Thanksgiving Day

into a national day of mourning and sadness?

 

The reason why some people today

are trying to shame the memory

of that first Thanksgiving Day

is that these left-wing liberals

hate America’s Christian foundation

and want to tear it down.

 

When the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony

invited their Wampanoag Indian neighbors

to share a good time feasting together

on the fruits of their harvest,

they set the pattern for

the holiday we observe this week.

 

And there is no reason to be ashamed of it.

 

Sure, there were times later on,

when settlers who came after the Pilgrims

mistreated Native Americans—

just as there were other Indian tribes

that weren’t as hospitable and friendly

as the Wampanoags.

 

The fact is, before any Europeans arrived at all,

the Native American tribes were enslaving one another,

making war against one another,

and subjecting one another,

just as all of sinful mankind has been doing

throughout human history.

 

So, the left-wing liberals’ demand today

that we should apologize to the Native Americans

for taking their land,

and that Thanksgiving Day should be replaced

with a national day of mourning—

that’s all just a propaganda trick

on the part of those

who hate America’s Christian heritage

and who want to replace

the American way of life

with the atheistic socialist system

that ruined Cuba and Russia.

 

We do well to read our history books,

and to read our Bibles

and to speak out against

such attacks on the American way.

 

And I speak favorably of “the American way”

because, historically, it is based on

the Christian way of life outlined in the Bible.

 

Certainly. there have been many shameful departures

over the years,

but this nation was founded on Bible principles,

and most of our leaders,

down through the centuries,

have professed Christian faith,

and have upheld Bible truths.

 

A nation made up of sinners can not be without sin,

but sinners who repent and look to Christ as Savior

have done their best

to keep this a Christian nation.

 

So, we do well to remember

how Thanksgiving Day began

as a time of peaceful rejoicing

with Pilgrims and Wampanoags sharing together

and giving thanks together.

 

The kindness of the peace-loving Pilgrims

helped many Wampanoag natives to receive Christ

and become Christian believers.

 

In fact, the oldest church on Cape Cod

is the Old Indian Meeting House

on Meetinghouse Road in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

 

It was built in 1684,

and it stands as a testimony

to the large numbers of Wampanoag Indians

who received the Gospel with joy.

 

The tribe’s territory stretched from the Cape & Islands

to include

what is now Marshfield, Brockton, Foxboro

and eastern parts of Rhode Island.

 

And within that territory

Christian Wampanoags formed 14 towns of their own—

there were so many of them

who put faith in Christ.

 

So, there is no valid reason whatsoever

to even think of turning Thanksgiving Day

into some sort of “day of mourning”

as the left-wing liberals demand.

 

And there is every reason to keep on following

the Bible’s advice to give thanks on every occasion.

 

And what better occasion is there

than this holiday with its rich history

and family traditions.

 

Instead of being ashamed of God’s blessings on this nation,

we can say as Isaiah 9:3 said to God about Israel,

You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time

 

Yes, God has enlarged this nation

from the small beginnings at Plymouth Plantation

back in 1620,

to 50 states spanning North America.

 

And he has showered this nation with blessings

beyond the blessings of any other nation on earth.

 

So, it is only fitting that we be thankful

and appreciative

and even have a national holiday to give thanks.

 

And that is what our leaders have done,

ever since the birth of this nation in 1776.

 

I could hardly find the words to say it better

than our nation’s leaders have done.

 

So, I’d like to read now the very first national proclamation

of a Thanksgiving Day,

and the last one that has been made, so far.

 

The first proclamation was made in the year 1777,

while our War of Independence was still being fought.

 

So, it was 12 years before George Washington’s

Thanksgiving proclamation as the first president.

 

In 1777 it was the Continental Congress

that called for a national Day of Thanksgiving—

at that time in December,

before the November holiday was enacted.

 

And, as I read and put up on the screen

the words the Continental Congress wrote,

notice that their document named our Lord Jesus

and placed his name in all capital letters.

 

This is what that very first national Thanksgiving Day

proclamation said:

IN CONGRESS

November 1, 1777

FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles oftrue Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost." And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

 

What a testimony to the faith of our Founding Fathers!

 

And that same faith is expressed in the most recent

Proclamation by President Donald Trump

on Thanksgiving Day, 2019.

 

Copied from the White House web site,

it says,

 

On Thanksgiving Day, we remember with reverence and gratitude the bountiful blessings afforded to us by our Creator, and we recommit to sharing in a spirit of thanksgiving and generosity with our friends, neighbors, and families.

 

Nearly four centuries ago, determined individuals with a hopeful vision of a more prosperous life and an abundance of opportunities made a pilgrimage to a distant land.  These Pilgrims embarked on their journey across the Atlantic at great personal risk, facing unforeseen trials and tribulations, and unforetold hardships during their passage.  After their arrival in the New World, a harsh and deadly winter took the lives of nearly half their population.  Those who survived remained unwavering in their faith and foresight of a future rich with liberty and freedom, enduring every impediment as they established one of our Nation’s first settlements.  Through God’s divine providence, a meaningful relationship was forged with the Wampanoag Tribe, and through their unwavering resolve and resilience, the Pilgrims enjoyed a bountiful harvest the following year.  The celebration of this harvest lasted 3 days and saw Pilgrims and Wampanoag seated together at the table of friendship and unity.  That first Thanksgiving provided an enduring symbol of gratitude that is uniquely sewn into the fabric of our American spirit.

 

More than 150 years later, it was in this same spirit of unity that President George Washington declared a National Day of Thanksgiving following the Revolutionary War and the ratification of our Constitution.  Less than a century later, that hard-won unity came under duress as the United States was engaged in a civil war that threatened the very existence of our Republic.  Following the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, in an effort to unite the country and acknowledge “the gracious gifts of the Most High God,” President Abraham Lincoln asked the American people to come together and “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”  Today, this tradition continues with millions of Americans gathering each year to give their thanks for the same blessings of liberty for which so many brave patriots have laid down their lives to defend during the Revolutionary War and in the years since.

 

Since the first settlers to call our country home landed on American shores, we have always been defined by our resilience and propensity to show gratitude even in the face of great adversity, always remembering the blessings we have been given in spite of the hardships we endure.  This Thanksgiving, we pause and acknowledge those who will have empty seats at their table.  We ask God to watch over our service members, especially those whose selfless commitment to serving our country and defending our sacred liberty has called them to duty overseas during the holiday season.  We also pray for our law enforcement officials and first responders as they carry out their duties to protect and serve our communities.  As a Nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to both those who take an oath to safeguard us and our way of life as well as to their families, and we salute them for their immeasurable sacrifices.

 

As we gather today with those we hold dear, let us give thanks to Almighty God for the many blessings we enjoy.  United together as one people, in gratitude for the freedoms and prosperity that thrive across our land, we acknowledge God as the source of all good gifts.  We ask Him for protection and wisdom and for opportunities this Thanksgiving to share with others some measure of what we have so providentially received.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 2019, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.

 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this

twenty-seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

What a joy it is to see our Creator honored

with expressions of thanksgiving

from the highest levels of government.

 

But we’re living at a time right now

when our nation’s traditional Christian values

are being challenged and rejected.

 

And we don’t know which way future leaders will go.

 

So, it’s good to keep in mind the conditions

that the Apostles and early Christians lived under.

 

The heads of government were brutal Caesars.

 

Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero

were all pagan rulers, hostile to the Gospel message.

 

Yet, it was under such heads of government

that the Apostle Paul wrote

in his First Letter to Timothy,

 

1 TIMOTHY - CHAPTER TWO

1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: 2 for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence.

 

So, the Lord calls on us to pray for

our government leaders—no matter who they are—

so that we may continue to lead peaceful,

quiet and godly Christian lives,

without disturbance.

 

And he calls on us to continue to be thankful

for our blessings.

 

If we do that, we have the assurance

of the inner peace that comes from God,

regardless of the outward circumstances

around us.

 

Philippians 4:6 says,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

 

God’s peace cannot be taken away from us.

 

And we can all be truly thankful for that.