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Monday, July 22, 2013

Harwood Missouri 7/17/13
Last week we drove through Harwood Missouri where my Mom grew up. She attended the church in the background. The area now has a significant population of plain people.

"Strangers And Pilgrims"
(Staying The Course)

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Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage" (Psalm 119:54). "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). "Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). (From the 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible used by the Pilgrims.)

O how blest to be a pilgrim,
Guided by the Father’s hand;

Early Saturday evening we returned from our two week trip to the Midwest, where we both grew up and have our family roots. It was a personal heritage tour of sorts; driving by the houses we grew up in, where our grandparents lived, our schools, the college campus where we met and the very first little country church we pastored. Visits like this remind us we are on a pilgrimage and as we approach our late fifties we realize we are well along! Our main goal remains "staying the course".

I enjoy reading "On This Day" websites which recall events that took place on specific days in history. On this day (July 22, 1620) the pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in Holland for their voyage to the New World.

Gov. William Bradford described the scene: "So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place [Leiden, Holland] for twelve years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.…and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leave one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them."

What a powerful perspective we do well to attain in our Christian pilgrimage, living in such a way that reflects our dearest country is not here and now, but that which is to come.

Most of their treasures were left behind, but one treasured possession that pilgrim families refused to leave in Holland was their copy of the Scriptures. Its message would strengthen and guide them as they endured the mockery and ridicule from bawdy, foul mouthed sailors on their treacherous Mayflower voyage; it would anchor them over the long hard winter; it would sustain and console them as over half of their fellow pilgrims and family members would perish within a few months.

One of the great Biblical themes that deeply impacted these early settlers was the sense that they were pilgrims (hence their name!) They used this term not only in regard to their pilgrimage from the old world to the new, but in a much greater sense in regard to their spiritual pilgrimage. John Bunyan's classic allegorical novel, "Pilgrim's Progress", reflects this sense.

Both daily Scripture texts were surely held dear by these people. The 1599 version of the Geneva Bible which was read by the pilgrims, translates these verses using the word "pilgrim", as the KJV also does.

Still today, each of us are pilgrims on our earthly journey.  May those who follow find us faithful as we seek to stay the course!

Be encouraged today on your pilgrimage,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, since this pilgrimage on earth is all we've known since birth, far too often we consider this earth our permanent dwelling. But the prophet Isaiah gives us a true perspective of our transient life when he writes, "The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord endures forever."  Help us to lift our eyes to the heavens and place our affections on the eternal truths of Your Word. We, as Your redeemed children, desire to be faithful and stay the course as we walk this pilgrim pathway watching expectantly and longing for Your soon return. Amen.

Today we will share several photos from our visit last week to Harwood Missouri, where my Mom grew up and where my grandparents lived. We hope this photo selection prompts memories you may have of a bygone era in your own pilgrimage.

Steincross home in Harwood
All that remains of the small white frame house where my Mom grew up and my grandparents lived till they died is the concrete walkway in the foreground. The house burned down several years after they died.

Harwood Bank
Harwood Bank where my grandfather and later my uncle served as President. It was still open when I was a child and we grandchildren even got to play in the back! The only "businesses" still open in the essentially abandoned town is the Post Office and the grain elevator.

Harwood elevator scales
We had some family fun weighing ourselves as we are standing together on the elevator scales at this grain elevator,(of course, you can see us in the window reflection). The real accountability showed up when we weighed individually. You know what vacations do to the waistline! Now we have to pay for our overindulgences.

Harwood plain people, school in background
As we drove to the edge of town to see Mom's old school an open buggy was coming into town. I don't recall any plain people in the area when I was a kid. Possibly they originated from here in Lancaster County and are now spead around the country, utilizing land vacated by the descendants of the original settlers such as my grandparents and great-grandparents.

Harwood church
The little church Mom attended, like so many rural churches, is closed now. When we visited as children it only had about 7 or 8 older ladies as I recall. It was a treat for them to have some children and even though it was just my sister and me they pulled a curtain to partition off the front and we had graded Sunday School lessons.

This week I am preparing a special page for my cousins who also have connections and memories in Harwood. It will include these as well as additional photos. I will share a link to this page for any of our daily encouragement readers who may be interested.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Wayfaring Stranger"  Video  Selah

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Steve Green/The Gaither Vocal Band  (Includes a moving testimony)

"When we All Get To Heaven"  Video  Randy Overstreet

"Farther Along"  Video  Homecoming Singers

"A Few Good Men"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

Harwood Missouri is located here (Google map)

On This Day

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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