Of God and Country

Mom, baseball, and apple pie. November is going to bring all of these home. The World Series is wrapping up, and both teams will go home, one a world champion, the other, next year’s contender. November we also go home. Moms become important again, because we go home for Thanksgiving, and Mom will work tirelessly again to prepare yet another expansive feast, including apple pie. We turn our focus this month to these basic American values, and how we find them reflected in the Scriptures.
America is first a Christian nation. From the puritan pilgrims who landed on her shores with their Protestant Geneva Bibles, to the Founding Fathers Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin who sought to form a nation with Christianity at its center. Those we call the pilgrims were all members of the same church. It was a massive church relocation project, from the friendly confines of Europe, to the hostile American coast. Yet they believed that God had something greater in store for them and their descendants. 100 years later, they were proven correct. Their descendants became the backbone of a nation determined to serve God above King. In God our nation found its stalwart defender. And her fathers made God and His Word the core of our nation’s heritage and government. Our country was founded on the assumption that everyone would be engaged as citizens with strong moral cores. And of all the safeguards in our government to keep it from becoming tyranny, this was one they did not foresee.

They never thought the moral core of the citizen would become so corrupt, that the system would be in danger. They never thought that prayer would be removed from school, or that Jesus Christ would cease be a part of popular culture. They never thought that the perversion that is homosexuality would become the gold standard of tolerance. Or that the slaughter of innocents in the womb, the safest place in all the world for a child to grow, would become commonplace. They never thought that the people would become so desperately corrupt in their own lusts that less than half of the country would attend church. For the standards and ethics of Christianity are what form the basis for a people governed by God, and a government formed by those people. For a people who will not be governed by God will be governed by any man strong enough to take the crown. Pray that our country will not go the way of Cuba, Venezuela, or the old Soviet Union. There are strong men waiting in the wings if we do not assert that God indeed is King, and all of us are His subjects. Are you ready to defend our nation before the throne of the Lord of hosts? Please pray for our nation today.

November Meaning

Before we get into the Christmas season, and start taking about Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds, we need to look at what November means. November doesn’t have all the lights and tinsel. November is about home. There is the Homecoming, the homemade pumpkin pie, and the family coming home for the holidays. November is about coming home. It can be a time of great gladness and great sorrow. My family lost a family member this year. And there will be an empty place at the table. I doubt my story is unique.

But November also reminds us of great sacrifice. For the original thanksgiving was celebrated at great personal cost to Gov. William Bradford and the colonists of Plymouth Rock. It is a story that deserves to be retold as part of our nation’s history and religious heritage.

The Pilgrims’ story begins as their religious sect is marginalized in English society. Their stance on morality and virtue are too strict for some, and they are persecuted. They move to Amsterdam where any religion is welcome, but they find the morals there too loose, and are afraid their children will emulate them.

The make the decision as a congregation to emigrate to America, the newly discovered land where the English King has little power, and the English Church has little influence. Their chartered ship, the Mayflower, sets sail in the harsh North Atlantic, and finally sets sight on the Massachusetts coast that fall.

Their first winter was cruel, with cross after cross erected on the hill outside of the settlement. It is not an easy thing to be a settler in the new world, and it is not until they make some peace with the Indians, through the help of Squanto, that they are able to make any success.

The story of the pilgrims as we remember ends with the celebration of Thanksgiving in their first good harvest in the new world. Around their table was welcome one and all. It is this celebration that most people remember, not the sacrifices and lessons that preceded it. But this distant mirror of the marriage supper of the Lamb may yet remind of our celebration with the Son of God when at last our labors are done.

And maybe those two stories, of our family griefs and joys, and the sacrifice and faithfulness of the Puritan pilgrims, at some point intersect and intertwine, because our struggles are the same. Could we find in their story hope for our own? If we understood the faith of those pilgrims, perhaps we will find courage ourselves.