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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tree and pond, Lancaster County, PA
Tree reflection on a pond near our home.

"Pilgrims On The Narrow Road"

Message summary: Each of us are pilgrims on our earthly journey. With all the uncertainties around us let us declare this with resolved certainty: I am a pilgrim on the journey of the narrow road, may all who come behind me find me faithful!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“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.)

We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road,
and those who've gone before us line the way;
cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary;
their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace.

Plymouth 400th

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts (historically spelled as "Plimoth" in Gov. Bradford's history of the colony, "Of Plimouth Plantation"). Ester and I were there in January where we read of the big plans the Plimouth Plantation had planned for the year, expecting millions of visitors. However due to the pandemic their celebration was greatly impacted. When we lived in Massachusetts in the 90's we always enjoyed going over to Plymouth which was about 25 miles east of Taunton where we lived. On Thanksgiving Day we typically visited Plymouth Rock in the morning before eating our Thanksgiving dinner in the late afternoon. It always gave us a greater sense of the Thanksgiving Celebration.

If you attend a more traditional church you may have sung “Come Ye Thankful People, Come” this last Lord’s Day. Henry Alford penned this hymn in 1844. Consider this unusual statement written on a gravestone describing the Christian on a pilgrimage: "An Inn of a Pilgrim Traveling to Jerusalem". That was the message on Alford’s tombstone!

Pilgrim presentationDuring Thanksgiving season Brooksyne has often shared a program about the Pilgrims and their perilous journey to America in 1620 leading up to the first Thanksgiving feast held in mid-October of 1621. These pilgrims were initially referred to as Separatists and Saints. She did extensive research on this subject while we lived in Massachusetts.

She shares the story in a historically accurate, non-revisionist manner, with an emphasis on presenting the deep Christian convictions the Pilgrims held. Brooksyne first began presenting this program in the public schools in Massachusetts when we lived there. You might imagine the vast sea of historical ignorance, deception, and denial her contrasting message brought in a heavily secularized Massachusetts school district only 25 miles from Plymouth, where the Pilgrims first settled!

The Pilgrims left most of their treasures 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 also sustain and console them as over half of their fellow pilgrims and family members would perish within a few months.

Christian pilgrimOne 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 to a much greater degree 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 and the 1599 Geneva Bible, the version used by the pilgrims, translates these verses using the word “pilgrim”, (as the KJV also does).

Still today, each of us are pilgrims on the narrow road (see Matthew 7:13-15) during our earthly journey. With all the uncertainties around us let us declare with resolved certainty: I am a pilgrim on the journey of the narrow road, may all who come behind me find me faithful!

O may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.

Be encouraged today on your pilgrimage,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, since this pilgrimage on earth is all we’ve known since birth, far too often we consider it a permanent dwelling. But the prophet Isaiah gives us a true perspective of our transient life when he wrote, "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 as we walk this pilgrim pathway watching expectantly and longing deeply for Your soon return. Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: In light of our message today the words of Gov. William Bradford come to mind when he was describing the scene of the pilgrims boarding the ship in Holland for their voyage to the New World on July 22, 1620, “So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place for twelve years
[Leiden, Holland], 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 proper 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.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Steve Green

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Let There Be Praise Singers

"Behold The Lamb"   Video   From a Calvary Church service early this year

"Surely Goodness and Mercy" (A Pilgrim was I and a wandering)  Video  Congregational

Several years ago Brad Mullen, an associate pastor (now retired) at Calvary Church was preaching. Without any introduction he spontaneously broke into the hymn, "Surely Goodness and Mercy" and little by little throughout the congregation people joined in. It was so good to sing an old hymn impromptu and hear hundreds of voices joining in from memory. Afterward he told us that he was advised, "People won't know that old hymn so you may not want to sing it." They were wrong and I'm glad they were! It was a special moment since our large church tends to be very scripted.
Calvary Church worship team

Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock
Ester and I walked around the Plymouth Harbor in January and enjoyed a seafood lunch on the fishing pier. At the time Plymouth was expecting a very busy summer with the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims landing in 1620. As part of that celebration the replica of the original Mayflower ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, was to be returned to the coastal town in August after undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation in Connecticut over the last three years.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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