The Mayflower Compact and Thanksgiving

In 1620 a small group booked passage on the Mayflower to go to the new world. Shortly before their arrival in the new world, the leaders joined together to sign a mutual compact. 41 men on board the ship signed the compact. It set forth the purpose of their voyage and their agreement to self government.

The Mayflower Compact became the seed of a radically new form of government that nearly two centuries later would be known as the United States of America. You have heard of the Mayflower Compact. Have you read it? It is three brief paragraphs.

The Mayflower Compact*

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.

About one year after their arrival in the new world, the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving. The purpose was to “give thanks to God for His providential care.”

What happened to the group during the first year may be surprising. They landed in November. In December 4 of the group died. In January 8 more died. In February, another 17 died. In the month of March, 13 more died.

Before the first year was over 47, nearly half the group had died. In spite of the hardships, the pilgrims maintained an attitude of thanks. Governor William Bradford declared a day of thanksgiving to give thanks to God for His providential care.

The pilgrims faced and endured overwhelming obstacles and odds because they had a vision and purpose. They came for freedom and endured for freedom.

Freedom carries with it a great cost and responsibility. Freedom does not come easily. Ronald Reagan, taking a passage from the Bible, referred to America a shining city on a hill.

The road to gaining and maintaining freedom is not always an easy road. There must be a willingness to pay the price and persevere. There must be a burning hope and vision of living as a free people. There must be a willingness by leaders at the local, state, and federal level to stand firm and be a voice for liberty.

It is no coincidence that the pilgrims recognized and acknowledged God’s providential care. Our freedoms today are a direct result of a nation founded on the recognition and trust in God’s Providence.

We are still dependent on God’s providential care. Last Sunday morning, we had a special time in our church service to pray for rain. As powerful as we are, no mere man can command the life-giving rain upon our soil.

President-elect Trump desires to Make America Great Again. I am convinced that he will promote policies that will help us to be stronger and greater than we are today.

I am also convinced that neither he, nor our Congress, nor our Supreme Court, nor our military, can command the rain to fall. It reminds us that we must humble ourselves before God and trust His providential care on our land.

May God richly bless you and your family as you take time to remember His providential blessings in your life. Happy Thanksgiving.

Signature-Donald E. Cole

*Text of the Mayflower Compact from pilgrimhallmuseum.org;  Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation. Samuel Eliot Morison, Editor. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.Heath, Dwight B., ed. 

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