THANKGIVING: Rebooting our memories
Five years short of 400 years ago the English Pilgrims left their temporary refuge of Leyden, Holland.
Nathaniel Morton chronicles their departure
“So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.
When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.
The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears.
But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.”
There were many setbacks, and a long dangerous voyage, but they reached their promised land, with thankfulness to God.
Three months after their arrival half of the 102 pilgrims were dead of malnutrition and sickness.
Here the amazing thing:
Rather than having a shake-your-fist at God protest rally they had a day of thanksgiving.
Rather than seeking professional therapists to help them through grief and trauma, they had a day of thanksgiving.
They proclaimed a day of thanksgiving!
We live in a historical amnesia that cannot comprehend the depth of Christian faith, the resolve and commitment of those daring souls.
Our nation is broad but shallow, when those lives were narrow and deep.
Gary Bergel says, “There is perhaps no sin of great consequence in America than that of thanklessness and ingratitude toward God and His goodness.”
Let us take a lesson from men and woman who 400 years ago took their lives in their hands to risk a great venture – with determined faith in God, and an ethic of discipline incomprehensible to a society bent on instant gratification.
Let us, like them, give thanks, regardless of the hardships.