Whenever I think of April, I think of that silly expression, “April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring Pilgrims!” So that came to mind when it became time to write this April newsletter message.
Long before our Founding Fathers broke the yoke of tyranny in the American Revolution and sought liberty for “We the People”, a brave band of Christians known as the Pilgrims humbly sailed for religious freedom in the New World aboard the Mayflower. The roots of our constitutional republic may be traced to the sacrifice of the Pilgrims aboard that ship and the 51 who survived the treacherous first winter in Plymouth, Mass., after they came ashore on November 11, 1620 – 400+ years ago.
William Bradford, the governor of the colony for the first 33 years, provides us with the Pilgrim story. A small group of very devout Christians started a congregation in Scrooby, England in the early 1600s. At the time, the Church of England made it very difficult for these people to practice their faith according to their conscience. These Pilgrims, who were first called separatists, realized the Church of England in its current state could not be reformed from within, and that’s when they began to meet in secret. They placed God first in their lives, and after scorning, harassment, and imprisonment, this small congregation decided to flee England.
At the time, Holland was well known for its religious tolerance, and so they decided to try and make a life for themselves in a country where they could freely worship. While it was true that Holland was a very tolerant place, this meant that Holland was tolerant not just toward religious things but also tolerant of a lot of sinful things. After 12 years in Holland, the group began to discuss the possibility of leaving. Because their lives were centered on God, they decided to take the bold step of leaving all they knew and crossing a vast ocean to the unknown wilderness of the New World. They believed that whether they lost their lives or not, they were doing what they believed God had called them to do – and that was worthy and honorable.
The Pilgrims endured an ocean crossing that took twice as long as it should have, due to storms. They ended up in Massachusetts when they had originally set sail for Virginia. When they arrived, they were in very bad shape. It was the beginning of Winter. They had only the food aboard the Mayflower (and what they could hunt) until they could get through to the next harvest. Half of them died that first Winter.
My point is, that the Pilgrims made tremendous sacrifices because they put God first in their lives. Would we be willing to do the same? We have so much in this country. Would we ever subject ourselves to any kind of hardship like the Pilgrims to follow our God? Something to think about, huh?
It is Good to be your pastor!
In the Lord’s service till the last fish is caught, <><