The United Guests of America

We are most honored to be the Thanksgiving guests of Karl & Linda Mattila today. Thank God for friends who are inclusive enough to welcome us as family!

This brings to mind, for me at least, the origins of our nation’s thanksgiving mythology. The one where our so-called American Indian hosts welcomed our European “caravan” as guests. Well, actually that’s the alternative myth. In our telling, we “white folks” were the hosts and Tisquantum, aka Squanto, was a guest of “our” pilgrims.

I’m thankful today for our native American forefathers and mothers. And for our pilgrim guests and their legend of gratitude upon this north American continent.

The rest is history in terms of our pilgrim heritage. Not long after their dubious entry into that original native American community, these pilgrims developed what we’ve come to call our “ownership society.” And with ownership, we’ve accumulated slaves and “possessions” that were beyond foreign to our native American forefathers and mothers. You see, those wise folks such as Tisquantum understood that the earth was God’s to own and ours to borrow. Planet earth was here to provide its own resources for our use, starting with food, shelter, clothing, and natural energy.  (Think wind and solar.) We were, they rightly believed, all guests of our common God. And in being “guests” we became most “honored.”

Guests become united as one, and out of such unity comes honor.  Then gratitude.

That is the lesson I choose this day to draw from our nation’s thanksgiving mythology.

The idea of owning what God alone owns places us not in atonement or unity with God but, well, it makes sinners out of us. Sinners in need of salvation. Salvation to be found as guests in God’s all-inclusive family. Honored guests. Thankful guests.

Our choice as a nation today is between claiming as our forefathers and mothers those who owned the land and its bountiful produce, who would love things and then use people, or those true native American forefathers and mothers who assumed the role of guests upon God’s land, living instead as those who loved people and only used things.

Such a choice represents perhaps our greatest of all freedoms today as Americans. The choice of foreparents between those who lived as “owners” and those who lived as “honored guests.”

So here’s a toast to Tisquantum, aka Squanto, and to his Patuxet people. We are honored to be their guests today. And to be the United Guests of America.

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