Francis Cook, my ancestor, was one of the passengers on the Mayflower. My ancestor’s survival and heritage is directly linked to the wisdom, kindness, ingenuity, bravery and sovereign work of God among the blessings and sufferings of the Native Americans of the Wampanoag confederacy of tribes, particularly the Patuxet people. Thanks to Samoset, Tisquantum (Squanto) and Chief Massasoit, the early Pilgrims were able to survive at the Plymouth Colony and eventually thrive in the new world.
I have visited Leiden Holland, South Hampton, England and France, all countries connected to the unfolding story of God’s plan for my ancestors, the Mayflower and the early Pilgrim settlements. Even today, as I read over the particular distinctives of the religious faith of the Pilgrims, I see the odd way our lives seem to be shaped by those from which we have come (http://mayflowerhistory.com/religion).
I give God praise for his work of salvation, providence and blessings in my family line. I am not ashamed of my Christian faith, Protestant heritage and American citizenship. I do believe God is to be praised in spite of our historical and cultural sins as Americans. God is and always has been at work in this great land before any Scandinavian or Europeans even set foot here, but there were plans connected to His eternal purposes that included the intertwining of all our people in North America.
There are many fair and right judgments to be made about the history that unfolded but even in the failures and atrocities that took place, there were beautiful displays of the Kingdom of God at work in, among and through all his people.
One of the great blessings of the Pilgrim people coming to America is the gift of God’s written word which they gave to their friends among the Native people. The first Bible printed in America was translated and published in 1663 at Cambridge, Massachusetts into the Narragansett language of the First Nation people, by a missionary named John Eliot.(http://mayflowerhistory.com/wampanoag-language).
Today as I feast with our own family, I honor my Pilgrim heritage and the Native American people who made my life possible. Today when I sit at the banquet table, I remember the first table set in Plymouth. That table will forever be a testimony of what can be realized if people of faith and good will choose to practice charity, trust and friendship across cultural, religious and even political backgrounds.
To that end, I add my amen to Governor William Bradford’s Thanksgiving proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth.
“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
Ye Governor of Ye Colony