Around 1520, a reformation of the church was underway.
In 1620 pilgrims from England landed in this new territory where they were searching for a place where they could worship God without persecution.
The story began about eight or so years earlier as this group of people known as Separatists moved to Holland where they were greeted by the Dutch and invited to live peaceably with them and worship God as they choose.
After a few years the Separatists felt they were losing some of their English traditions and decided to venture to a new land they had heard about the was at a far distance and would mean crossing the great ocean.
The leadership paid for passage on the Speedwell ship to be taken to the new land. The problem is, when they did embark upon the journey and, landed, it was back in England. This wasn’t good as they wanted by the legal authorities and could be arrested.
The Captain of the Speedwell had duped them so, they scrambled to book passage on another ship and, there it was, the Mayflower. They booked passage, boarded the ship and set sail for the Promised Land.
So, who were these Separatists? There were two groups of Christians in England those days; one group, the Puritans said: We will affect change while within the church. The Separatists said: We will affect change while outside the church meaning they would work on spiritual matters while not following the dogmas and creeds that were within the organized church.
With this mindset they arrived in the new land and organized their community. That first year was tumultuous at best. Many deaths, trying to figure out how to feed the community and dealing with winter weather. However, they made friends with a local native named Squanto. Squanto and others helped these Pilgrims understand planting and harvesting as well as other life skills they will need as they are settling in their new country.
At the end of the Harvest that first year, there was a feast. These people who loved God and wanted to serve Him as they chose, gave thanks for their bountiful blessings of both a new home, food and their new friends like Squanto.
What are you thankful for? It is important for all of us to give thanks for His many blessings in our lives. While you may not have as much this year as you did last year, give thanks for you do have. Find ways to serve others during this time especially.
If you travel to be with family this coming week, remember those Pilgrim Fathers who travelled a great distance in order to worship God as they chose. Be thankful for them. Remember, count your many blessings!
The Most Rev. Michael Layne can be reached at 812-614-2160, or at www.doclayne.com.