Chris Lascelles on The Forgotten, But Important, Mayflower Compact

An 1882 painting of the Pilgrim ship the Mayflower, which in 1620 sailed from England to North America. | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This November marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims crossing the Atlantic and signing the historic Mayflower Compact.

But for many Americans today, this once well-known story barely stirs a connection with Thanksgiving — much less with America’s earliest foundations of civil and religious liberty. Compounding the problem, the pandemic of 2020 has cancelled public celebrations that would have put a spotlight on this pivotal moment in history.

So let’s take a moment now and pick up their story in the early 1600s. It was not a large geographical move that began the Pilgrim’s journey — it was an enormous step of faith.

As part of the Puritan movement in England, the Pilgrim leaders had sought to bring reforms to the Church of England inspired by the Reformation in Germany. To them, Christianity was about inward transformation of the heart, and a conscience made obedient to Christ and His Word. They were not fond, to say the least, of the English monarchs imposing their rule on the church by external force. Under these circumstances, reforms from within the Church were slow and limited.

However, in a radical and dangerous move, many Puritans began stepping out of the state church to form separate — and illegal — private congregations. Those who did so acquired the title of Separatists. The Pilgrim leaders were among them. For this they suffered much persecution in England which drove them to Holland for a period. While there, they decided on a move to the New World.

As can happen to us today, the Pilgrim’s plans took an unexpected turn. A stormy Atlantic voyage put them well north of their intended destination near modern-day New York City. When attempts to sail south were thwarted the Mayflower’s passengers and crew faced a winter in the wilderness of Cape Cod.

At this point in their story we should take heart as we consider the challenges of our time. They were blown off course. They were outside of their intended governmental jurisdiction. There were mutinous speeches and anarchy brewing on the ship. But with these problems and more, they were about to make history.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Chris Lascelles

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