Archive for the ‘Pilgrims’ Category

More Pilgrim Thots …

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I think about those Mayflower folks and I’m in awe. What they took on was huge. These weren’t farm people – they were city people.

They were living in England when their beliefs caused persecution, jail and death. They moved to Holland where they prospered – but worried about the influences on their children. They chose to go to a place where they would be the only influence. A good thought but …

That choice took them out of everything they knew.  Even their pastor had to stay behind in Holland.  After a sea voyage that put their lives in danger they landed in the wrong place (they were headed for Virginia). Not only were there no cities – there were no houses. No shops. Nothing. Half of them died that first winter.

I wonder if they were so busy just surviving that they neglected to pass their faith on the way they wanted to. Maybe they just didn’t have time for all the “whys” that little people ask.

I know children learn from example. They learn things from our example that we wish they didn’t! But, especially with faith, it takes more than watching actions. They need to understand the reasoning, too.

It’s important to talk about it – about why you do a thing. Thinking your thoughts out loud. Letting them hear you discuss decisions as you make them.

That’s the best way for children to understand how to do it themselves. It’s a living example of faith and truth applied to life.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Pilgrims and Their Children

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

I was reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick recently. We hear a lot about the Pilgrims’ faith and courage that led them first to Holland and then, because they feared the influences on their children, to America.

But the next generation was very different.

By 1660 church membership was so low that ” … as Governor Bradford had complained, the spiritual life of Plymouth had declined to the point that God must one day show his displeasure. … Instead of the afterlife, it was the matierial rewards of this life that increasingly became the focus of the Pilgrims’ children and grandchildren.” (Mayflower, p.198)

The Pilgrims didn’t really understand the Indians, but they tried. They tried to treat them with respect and worked to live together in peace. Edward Winslow even saved an Indian chief’s life. His son, Josiah, did just the opposite. Among other things, he perverted English law in order to steal land from the Indians. Some innocent Indians were sentenced to death. Indian chiefs were killed. When they had had enough and King Phillip’s War broke out thousands of Indians died. Those who survived the war were sold as slaves to Jamaica – where most of them died.

This terrible part of the story isn’t told very often.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I think we assume that our children will come to faith and have the same values we do.

But it doesn’t just happen. Those Pilgrims were good people who cared about their children. It wasn’t enough. Their example wasn’t enough. Just sitting under the teaching in church wasn’t enough.

It takes a lot of work to prepare a child to go out on their own. We think about helping them learn to cook, balance a checkbook, any number of things like that. It seems to me that we need to do the same thing with faith.

They need to understand that faith is important.
They need to know that they can’t get by on our faith – they have to have their own.
They need to know the truth and then how to use that truth.
They need to learn to make godly decisions.
They need to  know the Bible so well that verses come to mind when they are tempted (like Jesus in the wilderness).

Lord, bless our parenting and touch the hearts of the next generations!