Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Story of Thanksgiving - Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)
The Story of Thanksgiving
Scripture Reference: I Thessalonians 5:18
Memory Verse: I Thessalonians 5:18
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Being a follower of Christ entails celebration. Fall is a season of celebration. Years ago, farmers, their families, and entire communities celebrated the ingathering of the crops and thanked God for the bountiful harvest. During the month of November, we will focus on thanksgiving and celebration.

(Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

Icebreaker Questions: 
Name some things you are thankful for?

What Thanksgiving traditions does your family have? Tell about them.

Why do you think we celebrate Thanksgiving? 

Activity Time:

Construct the Pilgrim

Craft Instructions:
Color (where appropriate) and cut out the template pieces.

Glue pieces onto the head to put the pilgrim together.

Thanking God and celebrating his goodness will be our theme during the month of November. Today we will talk about the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving in America.
Bible Story Time: 

Reflection: How do you think you’d feel if you had to move to a new land where the only inhabitants were people who might not like you or perhaps would even hurt you? 

In 1606, members of the church in Scrooby, Nottingham, England, decided to leave the state church. They didn’t like some of the things the king was requiring them to do and were worried over the future of their faith. They might even be arrested and thrown into prison. In 1608, led by their pastor John Robinson, around 125 people left England for the Low Countries of Holland. About this time, they began to be called Pilgrims. 

Reflection: What do you think a Pilgrim is? (Someone who is moving to find something they love or a place they can be happier.)

Two men named William Bradford and William Brewster also went along. Providing for their families was difficult, and their children were being influenced by the bad behavior of Holland’s children. 

Reflection: Have you ever had friends at church or school—or maybe just people you went to school with, who were a bad influence on you? What did you do? Is there something you could have done differently?

In 1619, this group of people decided to seek “a place where they might have liberty and live comfortably,” and raised the possibility of America. In the year 1620, about 100 people set out from Plymouth, England, on the ship named Mayflower. Had the Mayflower reached the intended destination—the mouth of the Hudson River on Virginia Company's grant of land, they might soon have been forgotten. However, their ship touched America slightly to the North of Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. Because of the storm-tossed seas of December, they decided to stay where they were. Before going ashore, they drew up an agreement called the Mayflower Compact and chose William Bradford as their governor. 

Reflection: Has your family ever taken a vacation to a place you had never visited before? Were you excited, frightened, or a little of both? How do you think the Pilgrims felt when they first saw the barren winter scene of this new land? Does God promise to be with us wherever we go?

The winter that followed was one of terrible hunger, and about half of them died. Fortunately, there was an English speaking Indian named Squanto in the area whom they believed was a special instrument sent to them by God. He showed them where to fish, what to plant, and how to cultivate it. When spring arrived, they worked diligently, got their crop in the ground, and had a bountiful harvest. In November, they treated themselves and their Indian neighbors to the first Thanksgiving feast. And Americans have been following this tradition ever since then. 

The first men and women to observe Thanksgiving on this land were men and women who loved and worshipped God. They were confident God had helped them through that first winter, supplied their needs, and sent the Indians to be their helpers. As Christians, the tradition of Thanksgiving should be very important to us and lead us to remember some things we should thank God for.

Conclude the lesson by giving children the following three things they can thank God for at this season:

Providing for the forgiveness of our sins
Being a good and merciful God
Providing for our needs

Activity Time: 
Have children complete the Thanksgiving Anagram

Let’s sing about thanking God.


Thank the Lord
(To the tune of "Row Row Row Your Boat.")

Thank thank thank the Lord 
For the things he gives
he takes sins away
pray to him everyday
live a life he wants you to live

Wrap Up:
Let each child tell one thing they learned about Thanksgiving. 


Martin N Michelle
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