I am a student of American history. It was my major at Harvard. Even in Union Seminary I studied American church history. I am, in my heart, a Pilgrim. I descend spiritually from John Robinson, pastor to the Pilgrims, and William Bradford, fifty years the Governor of Plimoth Plantation, the first settlement of the people of the Congregational Way, in the New World.
I am amazed at the genius of their spiritual way, and what they understood a Christian Congregation to be - a people "gathered" by the Holy Spirit, covenanting to live together in the "Ways of the Lord, known and to be made known" to them. They were ready to follow the unseen leadership of the Lord of Love, heard in the voices of their fellow pilgrims within the fellowship as they were gathered in church meeting.
They sought to live by a high doctrine of the Holy Spirit. They gave America its great vision of life together. They envisioned their churches as companies of love, bound by Jesus' love for all people, moving together under a unanimity that Jesus gave them by showing them their common caring for each other.
I believe that is still a viable vision for life together. Their Mayflower Compact spelled out the principles of life together in a democratic society.
It is a vision in peril today, as more and more people grow up without knowledge of our history, without a sense of our mutual obligation to each other, without the individual sense of responsibility for the whole.
Instead, we appear to have descended into a self-centeredness that too easily expects everyone to watch out for us, to shower us with rights and privileges to be paid for by others. Jesus' theme of giving our lives away, taking up the cross, and gaining life through the very act of giving it away - becomes the operating principle of our unique and magnanimous society.
I urge us in this troubled and tense time, to look again at the "faith of our fathers living still" - and by our own lives, give new life and new strength to the working out of that vision.
We have something wonderful America needs from the The People of the Pilgrims.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES