Summary: The people of God so very blessed. We need to have an attitude of gratitude all the time.
In Everything Give Thanks
Sunday, November 16, 2008 – AM
By Pastor Jim May
On December 21, 1620, 102 men, women and children, sailed out of their homes and into the pages of history and dropped anchor on the shores of a New World. They came seeking deliverance from tryranny, religious oppression, slavery and fear of imprisonment. They sought for freedom, liberty, justice and equality for all men, and for a place where they could be safe to life their lives in harmony with both God and man.
Their little ship, the Mayflower, was no cruise liner. It was a cargo ship with little provision for the comfort of passengers. Though there are no details of how big the ship was, it is estimated that it was only about 100 feet long and 25 feet wide. That’s just a little longer than our Fellowship Hall and about the same width. When we get all of us together in there at once, the room is nearly full, but think about the fact that only about 1/3 of that space was usable for sleeping and living, and then add about 30 people and all their belongings in that space and you’ll gain a whole new respect for those 102 pilgrims that sailed for 3 months to get to a promise of freedom.
It’s no wonder then that they were so eager to step out into a cold winter day in what would later become Virginia. No matter what they faced it could not have been worse than being crammed in the hold of that tiny ship. With such tight quarters it’s a wonder that any of them survived.
Sometimes we get on one another’s nerves in spite of the fact that we all have love one for another. You Do have love don’t you? You’d better because that’s a primary characteristic of a true disciple of Jesus. Even so there are times when we just have to walk away and cool off. Oh, come on now, no look so pious and innocent – I saw some of you yesterday and last week, and the week before. No matter how much we care for each other there are times when we just need our space.
Well, these folks on the Mayflower didn’t have any space and for 3 months I can only imagine the tempers that would flare and the attitudes that would form. Like us, I’m sure there were times when they truly loved one another but couldn’t stand the sight of one another. Oh to be free, to be able to walk on the ground and find a moment of solitude with no one around.
The first thing they did was to get down on their knees and thank God in Heaven for delivering them from the perils of the sea and the miseries of the voyage. For a moment in time, they felt so blessed. Now that’s a lesson that we all should learn!
Before the first Pilgrim set foot on the New World they established a set of laws that be their first government. Their agreement was called the "Mayflower Compact”.
They scouted out the land and finally decided upon a place to build their new colony and on December 25th the first working party left the ship to begin construction of "New Plymouth." Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas because they considered it just an "invention" of the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the Winter Festival of the Heathens.
But when they landed, the weather was cold and winter had only begun. Snow was already on the ground. It was too late to grow crops for food during the winter, and their provisions on the ship were running very low already. This was going to be a long, hard and deadly winter. Their first winter in the New World Promised Land would not be very pleasant, and yet the price of freedom and liberty was worth the risk.
They began to destroy the forest immediately. (It’s a good thing that the EPA and the animal rights people weren’t around then.) One forest creature after another became homeless as the trees fell and were then hewn by hand to form logs for a lean-to shelter or a small one room cabin, and a meeting hall. Even though the cabins were small and the land was harsh and cold, it was their cabin and their land. Finally, they each had a little piece of Heaven they could call home.
But they didn’t move off of the ship and into their new homes right away. There was safety in numbers and safety on the ship. To move on land alone was just too dangerous.
It was nearly three months later, on March 21 that some began to move off the ship and into their new homes. By that time over 1/2 of them were dead. In December, 6 had died; in January 8 more; in February 17 more and in March, 13 more had died. Sometimes two or three died on the same day. Four entire families were taken, and there was only one family that didn’t lose a family member. Of the 18 married women, 13 had died. Only three of 13 children perished. This was probably because the mothers were giving their share of food to the children.