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“By the goodness of God, we are so far from want”


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Deacon's Bench

“By the goodness of God, we are so far from want”

 

Nov 23rd, 2011 by Deacon Greg Kandra

 

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andrew-at-table.jpg

A lot of us know the story.

 

It was the autumn of 1621. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, after a rich harvest, the men, women and children who had survived the first year in the New World gathered for a feast to offer thanks.

 

One of the pilgrims wrote at the time: “By the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”

 

What was it like? I did a little Googling and found that the menu for that first Thanksgiving had some surprises. It was not necessarily turkey and pumpkin pie. Historians think they probably ate fowl and venison – or deer. The pilgrims didn’t have forks, but used spoons. More likely, they ate with their hands. And the food was probably a lot more fatty than we are used to. Cholesterol was unheard of. They were more worried about plague and the pox.

 

They didn’t have much sugar, so sweets and deserts were probably not on the menu. So, you can forget the pumpkin pie.

 

Whatever it may have involved, that meal left us with an enduring tradition: a gathering around a table, giving thanks for surviving in an uncertain and difficult new place.

 

But a few years ago, the Unitarian minister Peter Fleck suggested we look at this differently.

 

Maybe, he wrote, the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they had survived.

 

But maybe they had survived…because they were thankful.

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