The first official Thanksgiving meal was an oasis of peace in the midst of a tumultuous relationship between the Pilgrims from England and the Wampanoag Indians. Stress levels were high, and everyone was guarded. Yet Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Chief Massasoit, and their families to join them for a time of celebration and thanksgiving. For three days, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags feasted together, a special event between two very different groups of people - a moment where differences were overlooked and similarities were celebrated. During this time, Miles Standish and Massasoit made a friendship pact, a peace agreement, where land was given to the Pilgrims to develop the new town of Plymouth. Although peace did not always prevail between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags, the memory of their Thanksgiving celebration did.
As we remember and celebrate this day of Thanksgiving, our focus should be not on our differences, but on our common need for a personal relationship with Christ. Each day can be Thanksgiving Day when we celebrate the people in our lives. This month, spend one of your regular small group meetings having a feast of thanksgiving. Ask your group members to each bring food to share as well as one other person or couple. As a prayer before the meal, ask those in the group to offer one thing for which they are thankful, then bless the food and enjoy. After dinner, gather together for some apple pie, coffee, and testimonies. Have one person or couple from your group prepared to share about a personal day of thanksgiving: a day when their needs were met, prayers were answered, and/or obstacles or difficulties were overcome. Invite others to share about their own day of thanksgiving, then close the evening with a blessing and an invitation to your small group.