Thursday, December 4, 2014
November 26, 2014 By John Rabon
Every fourth Thursday of November, Americans come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, a meal that commemorates the Pilgrims making it through their first winter at Plymouth Colony. However, long before this holiday became an institution or even before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, they were English separatists. Ultimately discovering that being opposed to the Church of England is not the best way to get along with the authorities, they picked up and moved to America by way of the Netherlands. There, they sought to live life and practice religion as they wanted, becoming a part of America’s early history.
The English Dissenter movement kicked off in the 16th Century and comprised many groups, including the Puritans, Anabaptists, Quakers, and more, often referred to collectively as Separatists. One of these groups, the Brownists, originated with Robert Browne, a minister who believed that church congregations should govern their own affairs rather than have them determined by the Church of England. One of his adherents, a Brownist pastor named Richard Clyfton, began preaching at a church in Bawtry near Scrooby after being suspended from the Church of England under suspicion of nonconformity. As the government’s attitude became increasingly hostile to the Separatists, they began to meet in secret in contravention of the law that banned services not connected with the Church of England.
When Tobias Matthew replaced the more sympathetic Matthew Hutton as the Archbishop of York, he began a crackdown on Separatists in an effort to purge the archdiocese of any nonconforming influences. The Scrooby Separatists by this time were meeting secretly in house of William Brewster, a former diplomatic assistant to the Netherlands. As the ability to worship in England became increasingly difficult, he used his connections to help the congregation relocate to Holland.
Eventually, however, the Dutch culture didn’t agree with their stricter morality, and as the children started to identify more with the Dutch culture than the group’s conservative attitude, the Separatists felt it was necessary to leave before their cultural identity was extinguished. Not wanting to head back to England, they began to turn their attention to the west, where England and other European nations were establishing colonies. Ultimately, the Separatists felt they should settle near Virginia for the potential trade and protection the larger colony would offer, but far enough away that they could practice their beliefs without interference or influence.
The Pilgrims were then able to negotiate for their own colonial settlement that was to be located to the north of the Virginia colony and called New England. As they set to leave, Brewster, being the oldest layperson in the congregation, was tapped to lead them in the New World. Since they didn’t have enough money to be completely independent, they formed a partnership with financial backers, with the investors supplying resources to get the colony started in return for natural resources harvested in America.
Originally two ships were going to set out for the new colony, the Speedwell and the Mayflower, but the Speedwell had serious structural problems that forced the group to turn back for England and eventually leave on just the Mayflower. The original destination was near the Hudson River in New York, but winds and bad weather forced the ship further north into Cape Cod. Arriving in November, weather conditions made it increasingly difficult to get out of the cape, so the settlers decided to establish their colony in Cape Cod and named it Plymouth for the place from which they had sailed.
Arrival didn’t bring about a happy ending, though. While the settlement was being constructed, many of the colonists continued to live on the ship and had to contend with harsh conditions that brought about illness that reduced their numbers from 102 to 52. Eventually, the Pilgrims came into contact with the Pokanoket Wampanoag tribe and made a treaty of mutual protection with them.
One of the Wampanoag men, the legendary Squanto, helped the Pilgrims become successful in growing Indian corn to sustain them. Squanto had his own ties to England, having been once captured by English soldiers and living in London after his escape. His experiences in England led him to act as an interpreter and guide for the Pilgrims, helping to transform the struggling Pilgrim colony into a successful settlement.
Though the English ties of the Pilgrims fall by the wayside in the celebration of the holiday, it is worth remembering the backstory of America and the role that England played in its formation.
Friday, November 7, 2014
In a week from today, we will be celebrating the life of Charlotte Baker - in a worship service in Dallas. (Please come if you can - we will worship into the night just as she would want us to!) One of the things I am most grateful to her for, is her vision for the restoration of the arts...not just to have arts restored to the Church, but to see arts restored to worship and the prophetic realm. All this to say how much I have always loved the poetry of Bonnie Saul Wilks. Take a moment today to meditate on these words and draw near to the Lord. Bonnie always takes us on such a sublime journey...stay a while…linger in this one thought:
One Thought Alone
Mortality and eternity
Pull me at once
In opposite directions.
I am indentured and indebted, living in realtime
And heavenly seasons. I am a soldier and princess at once, waging war and dancing before my King.
But one day I'll let
Go this world in its
Decay and corruption to
Fly through golden skies
Awash with Angels with
Sounding silver trumpets
With one thought alone--
To see His face
To kiss His hands
To bury my headIn His riven side
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
I have been meditating on some of David's key heart attitudes in Psalm 27:4 for several years - he spoke about dwelling in the house of the Lord, and I wanted to look at the places where David set his heart to make a dwelling place.
I wanted to point out that the Hebrew word for "dwell" (yashab) is not some temporary abode - it means to set, sit, remain and stay in a place. To be still.
If you just look at the psalms of David, you can hear his cry to dwell in the presence of God. Look at this progression through the Psalms – the places where David decided in his heart to dwell – we see a progression from his desire to dwell in safety right through to his desire for the secret place(s) of God’s presence.
1. David wanted to dwell in a place of safety - Psalm 4:8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
2. David wanted to dwell in God’s holy hill – Psalm 15:1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
3. David wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever - Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Psalm 27:4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.
Psalm 84:4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah
4. David wanted to dwell in the land that the Lord provided – Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Psalm 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever.
5. David wanted to dwell in the courts of the Lord – Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.
6. David wanted to dwell in Zion – the place of God’s presence and Judah – the place of praise - Psalm 69:35 For God will save Zion And build the cities of Judah, That they may dwell there and possess it.
7. David wanted to dwell in the secret place of God’s presence – Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, (see also Moses’ prayer: Ps. 90:1)
Psalm 101:6 My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me.