A Scoutmaster Minute - Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving you may have heard in school paints a nice picture of pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower and joining the native Americans in a feast. That picture is far from accurate. The pilgrims were unprepared for the hostile environment they were entering and many died shortly after their arrival. The Mayflower went back to England and rotted while it sat in dock on the Thames river. The next supply ship expected to find a thriving community, but instead found very few survivors and many of them were gravely ill and waiting death. The first Thanksgiving was filled with hopelessness and fear.

Thanksgiving is our way to honor the hardships and wars we have had to endure to be a free people. From the beginning we have placed our hopes and fears in our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have trusted to Bless us and our country. After the Revolutionary war, we thought we were free and ready to prosper, but then came the war of 1812 and we began to realize that freedom would be something we would have to fight for every day. In 1815, President James Madison gave a Proclamation that I would like to share with you.

“The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.

No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of His benign interposition. During the interval which succeeded He reared them into the strength and endowed them with the resources which have enabled them to assert their national rights and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies. And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.

It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.”

God gave us the new promised land, founded one nation under God. Have we been perfect stewards of this land and people? Of course not, but we strive every day to identify our weakness and to improve. That is what a Christian people do and we are a very giving nation.

As Scouts and Scouters, during Thanksgiving, we naturally direct our thoughts to things we are thankful for. Things like friends, family, liberty, church, school, good food, fellowship, activities we can do, and places we have been or can go to. It is great to have things we are thankful for. In this world, not everyone gets what they want the way they want it, but everyone can be thankful for what they have.

Thanksgiving is not about gifts or fireworks or hoopla. It’s a meal around a table where you give thanks for the blessings you have. I will not be around your table as you celebrate with friends and family, but know that I am thankful for the time I have been given to share a portion of your life. I give thanks for my eldest son Matthew for pestering me, way back when, to join scouting. Since that time, God has blessed me with opportunities to mentor many scouts along the way. My greatest joy is my family as well as my extended family and that includes you. I pray daily for all those I have mentored or known, good or bad. At this time of thanksgiving, I ask each of you to do the same.

I will conclude this message with the following thought. 

Don’t forget that “giving” is part of “Thanksgiving”. You might not be able to give money, but you can give time and talent. You can give by doing your good turn every day. Just don’t expect to be rewarded or paid. Help shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk, visit the elderly and shut-ins, hold a door open for somebody, do a chore around the house without being told and don’t brag about it. Whatever your Good Turn, don’t accept anything in return, except perhaps a “Thank you”.

So, this Thanksgiving, really commit yourself to taking the time, every day, to “Do a Good Turn Daily”.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Mr. Gnadinger (Mr. G)