It’s amazing to think that on this day in 1620 the famous ship of ships for America, the Mayflower, set sail from Plymouth, England, headed for the New World. On board were 102 passengers, thirty-five of the Pilgrims were members of the radical English Separatist Church, who traveled to America to escape the Church of England. The Mayflower was sailing for Virginia. Half of the passengers were the religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs. Seems like a proper mix for what we know as the USA today, doesn’t it? Stormy weather and navigational errors caused the Mayflower to veer off course, and on November 21 the “Pilgrims” reached Massachusetts. It was there they founded the first permanent European settlement in New England.
Commerce and religious freedom were the motivation of the first trip to these shores. I’m not sure which we worship more. I often think we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship. We are a spiritual nation in many ways but not a religious nation. The church has often been so flawed that people have abandoned it due to the mix of commerce and its own internal politics. “Christians” teat each other worse than the so called pagans.
But freedom to worship can not be mandated with “Blue Laws” or edicts from the religious establishment. The Church (capital C) has always been counter culture. It can be culturally relevant without becoming co-opted by culture. Sometimes I think that the biggest problem for the church is all the property it has. Possessions require lots of maintenance and money. Perhaps if we were a bit more “pilgrim” in our approach to faith we would more easily reflect the love that Jesus wanted to show the world.