By Fran Gardner Mora / Pearls & Presence
Four hundred years ago, a small group of just over 100 people sailed across the ocean from England and reached the northeastern shore of this country. They came with the intention of establishing a community that would allow them to worship God without all the trappings of politics or the worldly influence that threatened to pollute the purity of their beliefs. They left their old lives behind, knowing that there would be even more risks and sacrifices encountered as they pursued their dream. Arriving in autumn, they faced the challenge of surviving the winter with very little preparation and scarce provisions. Because of cold, sickness, and hunger, only half of them lived to greet the spring. But they pushed forward and called upon the name of the LORD.
Our Father, the faithful Waymaker, helped them to forge a life-saving alliance with the resident native tribe – despite the disappointments of prior engagements with white settlers. So, two distinctly different peoples worked in unity for the betterment of all. The pilgrims learned to hunt, fish, and plant crops that could survive in the unfamiliar environment; and the native dwellers gained protection from the attacks of other tribes. They were friends who trusted and relied on each other, even though they didn’t share the same God, culture, or life experiences. When the pilgrims prepared a three-day feast to give thanks to God for all that He had provided, they invited their Native American brothers to partake and be present before the LORD. As they gathered together, they not only enjoyed the bountiful harvest, they celebrated the beauty of fulfilled hope.
In this season of giving thanks to God and counting our blessings, believers must challenge themselves to resist the temptation to embrace ideology that strives to encourage separation and strife between people. We must guard our hearts against destructive rhetoric and sensationalism, and we must ground ourselves in the sensibility of God. The end game is not merely toleration and respect; the end game is, and has always been, love.
The best way to show our appreciation for the goodness of God is to reflect Jesus to those around us – and the only way we can do that is to draw near to those who need to see Him. We must be purposeful in extending a hand in partnership so that we can be fruitful ambassadors of Christ.