By Rev Bill Woods
In the early 1600’s, a group known as the Separatists lived in England.
They were people who wanted to worship God, study the Bible and pray, but the English laws didn’t allow the Separatists to worship as they desired. They were to follow the laws or be silent.
They secretly worshiped, despite English laws.
They were hunted down, tormented, and locked up for months because they continued to worship as they chose.
Eventually, they learned they could worship like they wanted to in Holland — so they escaped to Holland.
They became known as Pilgrims.
They lived in Holland 12 years, but left because they couldn’t stand the hard life — or work their own trades and they were concerned because their children were forgetting their customs and heritage.
They hired two sea-going vessels, the Speedwell, and the Mayflower to cross the Atlantic to America.
In August both ships sailed from Southampton, England. However, the “Speedwell” proved not sea-worthy. .
After two attempts to make her seaworthy, both ships came ashore in Plymouth, England; they decided to abandon the “Speedwell” and use only the “Mayflower.”
Unfortunately, one ship couldn’t hold all those who wanted to go to America, so many were left behind.
The Mayflower crammed as many passengers on as possible.
The problems with the “Speedwell” put the expedition a month behind schedule.
The late start destroyed hope for good summer sailing weather.
The “Mayflower” sailed September 6, 1620, heading for Virginia, with 102 passengers and a crew of 20-30 under the command of Captain Christopher Jones.
The ship had 3-masts, weighed 180 tons, was 90 feet long, 26 feet wide and had 3 levels.
The Mayflower had been used to carry wine and was accustomed to heavy loads and heavy seas.
She seemed well equipped to make the voyage, but wasn’t particularly fast and the upper deck leaked in stormy weather.
They sailed for two months and three days, cramped and hungry.
The women slept in the Captain’s quarters and the men and the crew slept on the decks where they were exposed to the weather and spray from the ocean.
The fresh food lasted only a short time. After that meals consisted of gruel (a watery cereal eaten warm the first day and cold for two more days), dried or salted meat (sometimes fish), hard biscuits (called hardtack), and cheese — washed down with beer.
There were no sanitary facilities, except for buckets.
Personal hygiene suffered since washing was almost impossible.
Some passengers tried to use seawater to clean themselves — the crew made fun of them. The fresh water for drinking was carefully guarded.
At the end of September fierce storms and hurricanes blew the “Mayflower” far off course.
During one of those storms, one of the main deck beams cracked.
Luckily (or perhaps providentially) one of the carpenters’ tools on board was a “greate iron screw” that was generally used in construction of houses and barns.
Two or more men would turn it to get a heavy beam into the exact spot before it was fastened.
To repair the damage, the screw was placed under the cracked beam and used as a jack to move it back into place and supports were installed beneath it.
The ship was able to proceed on its way.
In November, Captain Jones sighted Cape Cod.
Knowing he was too far north, he turned south toward Virginia.
He ran into contrary winds so he turned back to find a safe harbor.
On November 11, the “Mayflower” anchored at the present-day location of Provincetown, Massachusetts — They’d been at sea for 66 days
For over a month, they sent men to find the perfect place to build their colony.
They finally found a place and named it Plymouth.
They started building homes and a Common house to meet in, knowing winter was near.
A violent storm hit before the houses were finished and they were forced to stay on the unheated Mayflower for their first winter in the new world.
It was March 21, before everyone moved to a shelter on land.
By then their numbers had dropped considerably.
52 died during the winter of 1620-1621 from starvation, cold, and disease — 50 survived.
One of the deadly diseases was known only as “the sickness.” (They had a cold)
At one point only 3 people were able to be up waiting on the rest.
Daily rations got down to 5 kernels of corn per person.
The terrible statistics of this first winter were: In December, 6 people died.
In January there were 8 deaths.
In February 17 people died.
In March, 21 died.
Frequently two or three died on the same day.
Four entire families were wiped out — only one family didn’t lose at least one member.
Of 18 married women, 13 died. Only 3 of 13 children died.
The mothers were probably giving their share of food to the children.
The Pilgrims feared Indians, even though none had been seen since their arrival.
They did all they could to hide the magnitude of their losses.
Burial services were conducted after dark.
Graves were leveled and planted with corn to conceal them.
The winter was, by local standards, a fairly mild one.
The Pilgrims weren’t used such an awful diet and being exposed to cruel, violent weather.
Had it been a really severe winter probably all of them would’ve died.
When the “Mayflower” was ready to return to England in April. 1621, Captain Jones offered to take any survivors with him at no charge — None took him up on his offer.
In the Spring an Indian named Squanto came to their village.
He spoke English — in 1614, Squanto was one of 20 Patuxet Indians kidnapped by the English explorer Thomas Hunt.
Hunt took his captives to Spain, where he sold them into slavery.
Squanto was one of several rescued by Spanish friars, he eventually made his way to England, where he worked for John Slaney, who had interests in exploration of the New World.
Slaney sent Squanto on an expedition to Newfoundland in 1617; where Squanto met explorer Thomas Derme, who took him back to England.
Squanto may have been an indentured servant to Slaney and Dermer.
He traveled again to the New World with Dermer in 1619, coming to the Patuxet region of his birth.
Squanto brought a friend, Samoset, who also spoke English.
Squanto and Samoset showed the Pilgrims where to fish, how to hunt deer, and how to plant corn.
Squanto lived with the Pilgrims for the rest of his life.
The 2 Indians translated for the Pilgrims with Chief Massasoit, of the Wampanoags, and other tribe members — a peace treaty was made between the Pilgrims and Indians that lasted 50 years.
With the help of the Indian tribes, there was plenty for everyone to eat that first summer, and also plenty to last for the next winter.
The Wampanoag Tribe contributed five deer to the feast.
The Pilgrims had so much to be thankful for — They gave thanks for good friends, new homes, freedom of religion, and plenty of food in a three-day celebration with their Indian friends.
All that was a history lesson — now let’s draw a few lessons from their story.
The Pilgrims had morals and convictions and stood by them.
Matthew 7:21-27–“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Build Your House on the Rock “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Our society’s filled with panty-waists that have compromised our convictions so much we no longer take a stand on morals or even know what to believe.
We’ve opened our arms to pre-marital sex, co-habitation, gay life styles, abortion on demand, marijuana distribution centers — you name it and we’ve compromised on it!
Our politicians are corrupt and lie to us, steal from us, pass laws that are a mockery, and misuse us and we just turn our heads like it doesn’t matter.
We’ve built on the sand and are in for a mighty crash!
The Pilgrims were determined to find a place to worship and serve God and let nothing deter them from that purpose.
Jeremiah 33:3—Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
They were willing to endure whatever hardships necessary to accomplish their goal.
Today, the slightest little thing can inconvenience us from serving God.
They established a government based on the Word of God and His Laws.
Our society has thrown God and God’s Word out of our schools, the courts, and the public arena.
Because the Pilgrims honored God, God helped them to take part in building a mighty nation.
We’re about to lose that Nation today because we’ve forgotten God.
Isaiah 60:12 — For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.”
Psalm 9:17—The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God!
Let’s commit to spending some time in prayer this Thanksgiving and not just spend our time eating a big meal and watching football.
This Thanksgiving let’s remember
2 Chronicles 7:14 — “If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
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