Editorial: Paul and Plymouth’s Rock
Editorial by Ron Halverson Jr.
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:17, 18).
Thanksgiving is coming, and once again our nation will mention, at least briefly, the pilgrims of Plymouth. History records that in 1621 the pilgrims gave thanks. But for what? Was it for the unfriendly country they now called home? The religious persecution they had suffered that caused them to make such a dangerous trip and seek a new beginning? Was it for the sickness that swept through the colony or the large graveyard filled with their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers? Was it for the shacks they called homes that the winter winds had blown through or the scraps of food on their tables? I ask again: For what did they have to give thanks?
Who are we Thanking?
It does not surprise me that society cannot get a handle on Thanksgiving. It is too big for many to comprehend. We try to put a better face on it with pictures of a nice little village—a clean village with plenty on the table and everyone smiling and healthy—because we know how to give thanks in prosperity. What we cannot grasp is Thanksgiving in tough times, in times of severe trial and difficulty. So we paint smiles and leave out the sickness. We paint bountiful cornucopia, but do not show the cemetery.
We speak of the brave pilgrims, the adventurous pilgrims, the spirited pilgrims. But it was another Spirit that brought thanks from the lips of Plymouth’s pilgrims. It was the Holy Spirit. And the Rock that served as the anchor for that little band of believers in Plymouth wasn’t the large commemorative stone with 1621 etched on it. It was Christ Jesus, the Rock. He was, and still is, Plymouth’s Rock.
In 1621 the Pilgrims gave thanks to God because they were people of faith. They believed, trusted, and, much like the apostle Paul admonished the church of Thessalonica, put their hope in Jesus.
This Thanksgiving let’s focus on more than the pretty pictures of Plymouth. Let’s remember a people of faith who loved God and trusted Him in all things, as is written in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV).
My fellow pilgrim, this Thanksgiving let us follow the example of the apostle Paul and Plymouth’s pilgrims. Whether in good times or trial, by faith let us stand firmly on the Rock on which our forbearers stood: Jesus Christ. And standing there, let us give thanks from Whom all blessings flow.
Ron Halverson Jr. is president of the Ohio Conference.