Greensburg Daily News
I Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Can you believe it? We are nearing the end of the year, already!
In a few days we will gather with family and friends for the celebration of Thanksgiving. It really is a wonderful time of the year. Yet for others, they will be working in our retail stores as the merchandisers have decided to ramp up this year’s sales by getting an early start on what has been called “Black Friday.”
In the early 1600s, I am sure the Pilgrims were not motivated by such retail maneuvers, but they were motivated to seek a new land in which they could worship God as they desired.
There were two groups in those days who were concerned about the things which were occurring in the church in England: The “Separatists,” as they were known because they wanted to affect change from outside the church, and the Puritans who were determined to affect change while remaining within the church.
The Separatists were not liked by many people including the church leaders. A group of the Separatists left England and found refuge in Holland where they were welcomed and allowed to practice their faith as they chose.
After about eight years in Holland, the Separatists were becoming restless and had the notion they may not be able to hold onto their English customs by living in Holland, so they booked passage on the Speedwell to go to the New Land they had heard about.
The Captain of the Speedwell took their money, they boarded the ship and off they sailed with great anticipation of a new found freedom. However, one day they found themselves coming into port, and as they were docking they discovered the Captain had sailed them to England, the last place on Earth where they needed to be.
The leaders of the group were unable to convince the captain to fulfill his obligation of giving them passage to the New Land, and therefore had to find passage on another ship. Fortunately, the Mayflower was in port, and after contacting the captain of that ship they came to a deal and immediately boarded.
The year was 1620, just about 100 years since the Reformation of the Church had begun.
People were trying out their new way of religion, and for many it meant they would not adhere to anyone other than God; no Papacy, no overseers, no liturgy of which to speak. These people desired total freedom from the Church.
After a year of living in this new land and having met a Native American by the name of Squanto who helped them learn how to grow crops, they decided to have a community dinner. I am sure this dinner was filled with great thanks for what they had endured and the new friendships they had made.
We are a few centuries removed from those days of the Pilgrim fathers, but we gather now with friends and family to give a special annual day of thanks. I do hope we never lose sight of the need to give thanks to God for all He has done for us in the year past.
We, too, are like Pilgrims and strangers in this land as we are looking for a place where our Lord has promised we would one day live with Him.
In all things, give thanks and please, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-662-5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org