Four hundred years ago on September 6 1620 a mixed crowd led by some Reformed Christians set sail from Plymouth on board the Mayflower, to establish a colony in the New World built around their principles of religious and political freedom. Their descendants helped draft the Declaration of Independence: it starts with this familiar flourish:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness.
I will leave you to discuss whether you feel that the current administration of the USA honours this claim! But freedom is what they wanted and, to a great extent, freedom is what they achieved, for better for worse. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Pilgrims clearly felt strongly that freedom of worship and belief was worth risking everything for. There is a hymn based on the parting words of Pastor John Robinson when
these Pilgrims started out from Holland: ‘The Lord hath more light and truth yet to break forth from His holy word’. More light and truth – that is a vision we might share.
Freedom to change is in the air, some of it triggered by the ‘shut-down’. In many areas of life we need to see and grasp new opportunities and options. This is as true for the church
as it is for any area of life. The Lord hath more light and truth – and not just light at the end of the tunnel either. Not fantasy or wishful thinking. We can do some things differently and if we can, then we should. The Pilgrims have a lesson for us – and it isn’t ‘go and become the United States of America’! Certainly not that.
In their Reformed tradition we too can cherish our freedom in worship, our determination to read and study the Bible, our authority as a Church Meeting to govern ourselves as an
organisation, our responsibilities to build a good society. More light and truth is the Reformed agenda, something Glenorchy should be known for.
In short, for the Pilgrims God was telling them to trust Him for tomorrow. For us too, there will be tomorrow; God is calling us to make it according to his will, accepting the risks, looking out for more light and truth. That message, that gracious promise stays the same after 400 years, indeed after 2000 years. Follow me and trust me, says Jesus, with all that that implies.
Revd Peter Brain