Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day Thoughts

My calendar shows today, October 11, a red-letter holiday. As a schoolchild I learned to celebrate October 12 as the launch of an adventure and discovery that began back there when Christopher Columbus arrived on our shores.

We have learned much since then about how Columbus discovered an area that some of my wife’s native American relatives did not know was lost. On the other hand, we hear little of his motivation for expanding the limits of his horizon. Columbus wrote his king with loud and heart-felt peals of sentiment:

"And Your Highness will win these lands, which are another world, and where Christianity will have so much enjoyment and our faith in time so great an increase. All this I say with very honest intent, and because I desire that Your Highness may be the greatest Lord in the world, lords of it all I say: and that all be with such service to and satisfaction of the Holy Spirit."

Columbus expressed a mood many Europeans felt at that time, similar to what many feel today. Pessimism convinced them life’s ends had been achieved; the future offered little hope. They saw their problems as insolvable problems. Preaching reflected sonorous and monotonous tones of judgment.

Columbus viewed himself as a person who might break this baffling barrier; he hoped to discover a cure for this awful malaise through the poultice of a new expansion. Peering out at the dark, stormy horizon, he saw a small hope--admittedly audacious. However, it offered a bright light at the end of a pitch-black tunnel.

Later history recorded that unceremonious thrust upon Plymouth Rock, which we now identify with certain Puritans (religious independents), Pilgrims we call them. Those newest Americans were not part of the established church of the privileged society; yet, they dared organize their social structure around a legal charter that redirected their new social network upon order and justice for their new world.

Like the founders of our Constitution, they lifted up ideals greater than their ability to achieve. As they faced their perilous adventure, however, they dared bend their knees and lift their eyes upward to the God in whom they placed their hope. With humility, they asked for guidance and strength. Their Mayflower Compact read as follows:

In the name of God, Amen.
We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects
Of our dread sovereign, Lord King James, by the grace
Of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king,
Defender of the faith . . . Having undertaken for the
glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith
And honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant
The first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by
These present, solemnly and mutually in the presence
of God and of one another, covenant and combine our-
Selves together into a civil body politic; for our better
ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends
Aforesaid and by hereof to enact, constitute, and frame
Such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions
and offices from time to time as shall be thought meet
and convenient for the general good of the colonie.

In 2010 we no longer accept the divine right of kingly authority; we even dare reject patronage of special rights for the wealthy, the privileged, and powerful. We dare reject the very idea of Divine Election, yet we press for the common defense of all people everywhere--even when we disapprove of their lifestyle.

As a nation governed by the people, for the people, and of the people, we dare not reject our common humanity “In the name of God, Amen” (as pledged in the Mayflower Pact).

There are reasons the Bible teaches us the following: “…keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospital to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:8-10 NASV).

These words are in the Bible not because they are for Christians only, but because when seriously obeyed and faithfully followed they produce that peaceable society where everyone benefits from the cooperation that produces the profitable and pleasureable harmony of a symphony orchestra.

We can accept them as the negative judgments of a harsh God, or we can accept them as the loving guidance of a Heavenly Father who delights in his children. We make the choice: peace and prosperity OR bombs, bullets, and terrorism.

From Warner’s World,
we are

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