Blest Be the Tie
How is it that the history of people that we do not know can be, on the one hand, profoundly moving, and on the other hand, soporific and mind-numbingly dull? The answer depends upon whether we are ourselves part of the story. Fiction seeks to involve us artificially in the tale and make us care about the people and events we encounter, but when it comes to the real thing, the stuff of history, our interest level invariably depends upon context, our connection to the background story.
When the Lord pointed to his disciples and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren!” He was saying that the relationship which believers have with one another is not only as important, but rather more important, than our earthly families. He spoke not to diminish the affection we should have toward our earthly family, but rather to show how much more important our relationship is to our heavenly family. And that’s why we care about a Samson Occom, or a Renée of France or a David Abeel, three champions of the faith we will meet in this issue.
We find ourselves caring about Samson Occom’s family living in poverty while he labored to bring the Gospel to his Native American brethren. We’re deeply saddened when we read how the funds he raised for Native American missions were deceitfully diverted. When the words of his sermon preached at the execution of Moses Paul echo across the centuries, we long to know the final state of that condemned man’s soul. Did he, like the thief on the cross, find repentance and salvation? We care about these stories and about these people because they are, through the sufferings of our Lord, our true Blood relations.
Indeed, blest be the tie that binds.
On the Cover
Portrait of Samson Occom, ca. 1751-1756, by Nathaniel Smibert. Oil on canvass, 30 1/8 in. x 24 15/16 in. Courtesy Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine. Bequest of the Honorable James Bowdoin III.
The October-December 2010 issue includes these articles:
- Samson Occom, Mohegan
- The Execution of Moses Paul
- The Fort Caroline Massacre
- Philip Otterbein and the United Brethren
- Renée of France
- David Abeel