Thursday, November 26, 2009

Echoes from the Mayflower

-- Listen! Can you hear them? Can you hear the echoes of that very first Thanksgiving feast? In the hustle bustle of the kitchen with clanking pans and sizzling turkeys, listen close and you'll hear the distant sounds of women cooking over open fires, turning the spit for hours as the meat grew more fragrant and delicious by each turn. I wonder if they had any idea that we would still be following their lead and continuing their tradition 388 years later. Their hearts must have been so full as they reflected on all God had brought them through. They must have been keenly aware of missing people from home, and of the loss of friends and family who had started out with them, but who had not survived this far. They must have held each other that much more closely in this celebration of harvest and life, hope and freedom, all out of their gratitude to Almighty God who held them together.
Tracing . . . tracing . . . tracing . . . generation upon generation . . . back and back and back . . . exactly ELEVEN generations back to my nine-times-great grandfather, a man named Edward Doty, who arrived on the Mayflower. He was there for that very first Thanksgiving feast! For me, maybe for many of you too, these were not just distant people from a history book. One of them was family. Something about that direct-line family connection brings the Mayflower and all it symbolizes much closer to me. Although Grandpa Doty was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I am so glad that he made that long voyage and did what it took to survive and thrive here, that he was part of the beginnings of this great country. Edward Doty is just one of many of my ancestors who were among the very earliest settlers in what would be come the United States of America. Each of them brought an intrepid spirit, a willingness to risk everything for freedom, and the bold resolve it took to cut a new trail into a vast wilderness and turn it into the great country we enjoy today. One more thing--the majority of them believed whole-heartedly in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ. I am truly thankful--today, and everyday--for all those who have gone before, for their sacrifice, for their determination that made my life here possible. I am most thankful for their faith in God, a faith that put boots on the ground and persevered down through eleven generations.

"I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,"

Philemon 1:4 NIV

I pray everyday that I will be as faithful in my generation as they were in theirs . . . that I will not fail to pass the baton to my children as it was passed to me. I speak of both the baton of Christian faith and the baton of the passion for freedom born out of that Christian faith. Thanksgiving Day in 2009 brings such a mix of emotions and images to mind--it is family and fun, food and football, but it is even more about faith and freedom. It all goes together, and I owe it all to the great God who started the whole idea of celebration feasts to begin with! If I live with Thanksgiving in my heart everyday, maybe my life will echo and ring down through the generations to come--I truly hope so!
What echoes from the Mayflower did you hear today? What do you hope sends an echo forward from your life? --

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