Do you come to our gathered worship service expecting God to speak to you through his Word? We encourage you to prayerfully read through the passage that will be preached prior to the service to help you prepare.
Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving
Just last weekend I went away with our elders for a time apart to re-examine our priorities as a church. The word “discipleship” started as one of many things on a “to do” list, and the more we talked and prayed, the more that word pushed its way to the top of the list.
That was all well and good, but almost immediately the discussion turned into a program — how could the elders begin “discipling” people, and how could that, in turn, multiply discipling throughout the congregation? Before we got too far down that road, I encouraged the group to substitute the phrase “making disciples,” from the Great Commission, for the word “discipleship.” That makes us stop and think biblically and comprehensively about just what Jesus’ mandate should mean in the life of our congregations.
To return to the first of these harvest feasts is to return to the puzzling figure of the Puritan, the name borne by most of the English people who came to New England in the early 17th century. What did they hope to gain by coming to the New World, and what values did they seek to practice?The easy answers simplify and distort. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who came along a couple of centuries later, bears some of the blame for the most repeated of the answers: that Puritans were self-righteous and authoritarian, bent on making everyone conform to a rigid set of rules and ostracizing everyone who disagreed with them. The colonists Hawthorne depicted in “The Scarlet Letter” lacked the human sympathies or “heart” he valued so highly. Over the years, Americans have added to Hawthorne’s unfriendly portrait with references to witch-hunting and harsh treatment of Native Americans.