Category Archives: Spirituality

Advent – Christmas Eve

th377WQ8QIOn Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

Let’s look at our scripture passages for Christmas Eve beginning with the letter to Titus, Titus 2:11-15 (NASB) . . .

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Our Second passage is from the gospel according to Luke . . . Luke 2:1-14(NASB) . . . .

1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Advent+-+First+Sunday-003[1]
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Tonight all candles are lit starting with the “Prophecy Candle” (purple), then the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple), Next is the “Shepherds’ Candle” (rose), then the “Angels’ Candle” (purple) and tonight the “Christ Candle” (white).

Let us pray . . . Father unto You be glory, honor and power, joy, peace, love and purity for only You have given us Christ the Lord Who is King and Shepherd, Savior and Lord. We thank You for Your graciousness and love, for the amazing sacrifice You make, in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Advertisements

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

th377WQ8QIThe fourth and last Sunday of Advent is for the celebration and representation of Peace. Let’s read our scripture passages, the first being from the first letter to the church of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NASB)

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.
For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

Our second passage of scripture comes from the gospel according to Luke Chapter 3, verses 1-6 (NASB) . . . .

3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,Advent week 4 wreath - BVC
Make His paths straight.

5‘Every ravine will be filled,
And every mountain and hill will be brought low;
The crooked will become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;

6And all flesh will see the salvation of God.’”

Today we light four candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple), the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple), the “Shepherd’s Candle” (rose) and the fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace.

Let us pray, Father we thank You for bringing us through this time of preparation to receive Your Son, our Lord and Savior. What a magnificent gift You have given and are giving us when He returns to gather His brothers and sisters, Your children, Home to glory. Keep us ever mindful of the price You paid when He came to earth in human form, totally human, yet totally divine, in His precious name we pray, Amen.

The Third Sunday of Advent

th377WQ8QIOn the third Sunday of Advent we concentrate on joy. Lets look at our scripture passages. The first one in from the letter to the church at Philippi, Philippians 4:4-7 (NASB) . . .

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Our second scripture passage is from the gospel of John 1:19-28 (NASB)

19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.
It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.Advent wreath

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle” and it represents joy. Today we light three candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple); the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple) and todays is the pink or rose candle know as the “Shepherd’s Candle.”

Let us Pray . . . Father thank You for giving us time to prepare for the coming of Your Son.  As we look forward to His birth, we also look forward to His coming again and thank You for our redemption through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Second Sunday of Advent

th377WQ8QIOn the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger. As we begin our Celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, let’s join together and read from the letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verses 4-13 (NASB) . . .

4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,

“Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Your name.”

10 Again he says,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him.”

12 Again Isaiah says,

“There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lets now read together from the gospel of Matthew. Matthew 11:2-10 (NASB)

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples
and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Advent-wreath-wk2-m8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
  This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger Who will prepare Your way before You.’

Now let’s light the “Prophecy Candle” from week one and now the “Bethlehem Candle” for this week.Advent-wreath-wk2-m

Let’s pray, Father we thank You for Who You are and for all the ways You show us Your love. Through the Prophets of old You gave us a promise and we see You have fulfilled it. We can therefore learn from this that Your word is tried and true. You will always keep Your promises. Thank You for showing us Your love as we prepare for the birth of our Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The First Sunday of Advent

th377WQ8QIAs we begin our Celebration of Advent, let us begin with a reading from the Epistle (Letter) to the Roman (church) . . . Romans 13:11-14 (NASB)

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Our second reading is from the book of the gospel of Luke, chapter 21:25-33 (NASB) . . .

25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.Advent - First Sunday

Let us light the first candle of Advent. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah. (Light the first Purple Candle)

Father we thank You that You love us enough to send us Your son for our redemption and new life. Prepare us for the day of Your coming again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Advent – What It Is, When It Is, and How It Is Celebrated

th377WQ8QICelebrating Advent involves spending time in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. In Western Christianity, the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24. In 2014 it begins on Sunday 30 November and is celebrated each Sunday after that until it climaxes on 24 December.

What is Advent?

Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Christians make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope and joy.

Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ’s first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of time.

Definition of Advent

The word “advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” meaning “arrival” or “coming,” particularly of something having great importance.

The Time of Advent

For denominations that celebrate Advent, it marks the beginning of the church year.

In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24. When Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, it is the last or fourth Sunday of Advent.

For Eastern Orthodox churches which use the Julian calendar, Advent begins earlier, on November 15, and lasts 40 days rather than four weeks. Advent is also known as the Nativity Fast in Orthodox Christianity.

What Denominations Celebrate Advent?

Advent is primarily observed in Christian churches that follow an ecclesiastical calendar of liturgical seasons to determine feasts, memorials, fasts and holy days:

Catholic
Orthodox
Anglican / Episcopalian
Lutheran
Methodist
Presbyterian

Today, however, more and more Protestant and Evangelical Christians are recognizing the spiritual significance of Advent, and have begun to revive the spirit of the season through serious reflection, joyful expectation, and even through the observance of some of the traditional Advent customs.

Origins of Advent

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Advent began sometime after the 4th century as a time of preparation for Epiphany, and not in anticipation of Christmas. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Christ by remembering the visit of the wise men and, in some traditions, the Baptism of Jesus. At this time new Christians were baptized and received into the faith, and so the early church instituted a 40-day period of fasting and repentance.

Later, in the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great was the first to associate this season of Advent with the coming of Christ. Originally it was not the coming of the Christ-child that was anticipated, but rather, the Second Coming of Christ.

By the Middle Ages, the church had extended the celebration of Advent to include the coming of Christ through His birth in Bethlehem, his future coming at the end of time, and his presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit. Modern-day Advent services include symbolic customs related to all three of these “advents” of Christ.

Advent Symbols and Customs

Many different variations and interpretations of Advent customs exist today, depending upon the denomination and the type of service being observed. The following symbols and customs provide a general overview only, and do not represent an exhaustive resource for all Christian traditions.

Some Christians choose to incorporate Advent activities into their family holiday traditions, even when their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent. They do this as a way of keeping Christ at the center of their Christmas celebrations.

What Are the Colors of Advent?

Advent Colors and What They Symbolize

Purple has traditionally been the primary color of Advent, symbolizing repentance and fasting. Purple is also the color of royalty, demonstrating the anticipation and reception of the coming King celebrated during Advent. Today, however, many churches have begun to use blue instead of purple, as a means of distinguishing Advent from Lent.

Pink (or rose) is also one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday. It represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration.

White is the color of the center Advent candle, representing purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

What is the Advent Wreath?thF5OUV8GM

Symbols and Customs of the Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. On that wreath, five candles are typically arranged. During the season of Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

Each week on Sunday, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger.

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle” and it represents joy.

The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

Celebrating with an Advent wreath during the weeks prior to Christmas is a great way for Christian families to keep Christ at the center of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

Thomas Mifflin – Signer of the United States Constitution – Pennsylvannia

thDKI9IGCQThomas Mifflin was born January 10, 1744 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of John Mifflin and Elizabeth Bagnall. He graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1760, and joined the mercantile business of William Biddle. After returning from a trip to Europe in 1765, he established a commercial business partnership with his brother, George Mifflin, and married his distant cousin, Sarah Morris, on March 4, 1765, and the young couple witty, intelligent, and wealthy soon became an ornament in Philadelphia’s highest social circles. In 1768 Mifflin joined the American Philosophical Society, serving for two years as its secretary. Membership in other fraternal and charitable organizations soon followed. Associations formed in this manner quickly brought young Mifflin to the attention of Pennsylvania’s most important politicians, and led to his first venture into politics. In 1771 he won election as a city warden, and a year later he began the first of four consecutive terms in the colonial legislature.

Thomas Mifflin, who represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, seemed full of contradictions. Although he chose to become a businessman and twice served as the chief logistical officer of the Revolutionary armies, he never mastered his personal finances. Early in the Revolutionary War, Mifflin left the Continental Congress to serve in the Continental Army. Although his family had been Quakers for four generations, he was expelled from the Religious Society of Friends because his involvement with a military force contradicted his faith’s pacifistic nature. Despite his generally judicious deportment, contemporaries noted his “warm temperament” that led to frequent quarrels, including one with George Washington that had national consequences.

Throughout the twists and turns of a checkered career Mifflin remained true to ideas formulated in his youth. Believing mankind an imperfect species composed of weak and selfish individuals, he placed his trust on the collective judgment of the citizenry. As he noted in his schoolbooks, “There can be no Right to Power, except what is either founded upon, or speedily obtains the hearty Consent of the Body of the People.” Mifflin’s service during the Revolution, in the Constitutional Convention, and, more importantly, as governor during the time when the federal partnership between the states and the national government was being worked out can only be understood in the context of his commitment to these basic principles and his impatience with those who failed to live up to them.

Mifflin’s business experiences colored his political ideas. He was particularly concerned with Parliament’s taxation policy and as early as 1765 was speaking out against London’s attempt to levy taxes on the colonies. A summer vacation in New England in 1773 brought him in contact with Samuel Adams and other Patriot leaders in Massachusetts, who channeled his thoughts toward open resistance. Parliament’s passage of the Coercive Acts in 1774, designed to punish Boston’s merchant community for the Tea Party, provoked a storm of protest in Philadelphia. Merchants as well as the common workers who depended on the port’s trade for their jobs recognized that punitive acts against one city could be repeated against another. Mifflin helped to organize the town meetings that led to a call for a conference of all the colonies to prepare a unified position.

In the summer of 1774 Mifflin was elected by the legislature to the First Continental Congress. There, his work in the committee that drafted the Continental Association, an organized boycott of English goods adopted by Congress, spread his reputation across America. It also led to his election to the Second Continental Congress, which convened in Philadelphia in the aftermath of the fighting at Lexington and Concord.

Mifflin was prepared to defend his views under arms, and he played a major role in the creation of Philadelphia’s military forces. Since the colony lacked a militia, its Patriots turned to volunteers. John Dickinson and Mifflin resurrected the so-called Associators’ (a volunteer force in the colonial wars, perpetuated by today’s 111th Infantry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard). Despite a lack of previous military experience, Mifflin was elected senior major in the city’s 3rd Battalion.

Mifflin’s service in the Second Continental Congress proved short-lived. When Congress created the Continental Army as the national armed force on 14 June 1775, he resigned, along with George Washington, Philip Schuyler, and others, to go on active duty with the regulars. Washington, the Commander-in-Chief, selected Mifflin, now a major, to serve as one of his aides, but Mifflin’s talents and mercantile background led almost immediately to a more challenging assignment. In August, Washington appointed him Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. Washington believed that Mifflin’s personal integrity would protect the Army from the fraud and corruption that too often characterized eighteenth-century procurement efforts. Mifflin, in fact, never used his position for personal profit, but rather struggled to eliminate those abuses that did exist in the supply system.

As the Army grew, so did Mifflin’s responsibilities. He arranged the transportation required to place heavy artillery on Dorchester Heights, a tactical move that ended the siege of Boston. He also managed the complex logistics of moving troops to meet a British thrust at New York City. Promoted to brigadier general in recognition of his service, Mifflin nevertheless increasingly longed for a field command. In 1776 he persuaded Washington and Congress to transfer him to the infantry. Mifflin led a brigade of Pennsylvania Continentals during the early part of the New York City campaign, covering Washington’s difficult nighttime evacuation of Brooklyn. Troubles in the Quartermaster’s Department demanded his return to his old assignment shortly afterwards, a move which bitterly disappointed him. He also brooded over Nathanael Greene’s emergence as Washington’s principal adviser, a role which Mifflin coveted.

Mifflin’s last military action came during the Trenton-Princeton campaign. As the Army’s position in northern New Jersey started to crumble in late November 1776, Washington sent him to Philadelphia to lay the groundwork for a restoration of American fortunes. Mifflin played a vital, though often overlooked, role in mobilizing the Associators to reinforce the Continentals and in orchestrating the complex resupply of the tattered American forces once they reached safety on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. These measures gave Washington the resources to counterattack. Mifflin saw action with the Associators at Princeton. His service in the campaign resulted in his promotion to major-general.

Mifflin tried to cope with the massive logistical workload caused by Congress’ decision in 1777 to expand the Continental Army. Congress also approved a new organization of the Quartermaster’s Department, but Mifflin had not fully implemented the reforms and changes before Philadelphia fell. Dispirited by the loss of his home and suffering from poor health, Mifflin now attempted to resign. He also openly criticized Greene’s advice to Washington. These ill-timed actions created a perception among the staff at Valley Forge that Mifflin was no longer loyal to Washington.

The feuding among Washington’s staff and a debate in Congress over war policy led to the so-called Conway Cabal. A strong faction in Congress insisted that success in the Revolution could come only through heavy reliance on the militia. Washington and most of the Army’s leaders believed that victory depended on perfecting the training and organization of the Continentals so that they could best the British at traditional European warfare. This debate came to a head during the winter of 1777-78, and centered around the reorganization of the Board of War, Congress’ administrative arm for dealing with the Army. Mifflin was appointed to the Board because of his technical expertise, but his political ties embroiled him in an unsuccessful effort to use the Board to dismiss Washington. This incident ended Mifflin’s influence in military affairs and brought about his own resignation in 1779.

Mifflin lost little time in resuming his political career. While still on active duty in late 1778 he won reelection to the state legislature. In 1780 Pennsylvania again sent him to the Continental Congress, and that body elected him its president in 1783. In an ironic moment, “President” Mifflin accepted Washington’s formal resignation as Commander-in-Chief. He also presided over the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolution. Mifflin returned to the state legislature in 1784, where he served as speaker. In 1788 he began the first of two one-year terms as Pennsylvania’s president of council, or governor.

Although Mifflin’s fundamental view of government changed little during these years of intense political activity, his war experiences made him more sensitive to the need for order and control. As Quartermaster General, he had witnessed firsthand the weakness of Congress in dealing with feuding state governments over vitally needed supplies, and he concluded that it was impractical to try to govern through a loose confederation. Pennsylvania’s constitution, adopted in 1776, very narrowly defined the powers conceded to Congress, and during the next decade Mifflin emerged as one of the leaders calling for changes in those limitations in order to strike a balanced apportionment of political power between the states and the national government.

Such a system was clearly impossible under the Articles of Confederation, and Mifflin had the opportunity to press his arguments when he represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Although his dedication to Federalist principles never wavered during the deliberations in Philadelphia, his greatest service to the Constitution came later when, as the nationalists’ primary tactician, he helped convince his fellow Pennsylvanians to ratify it.

Elected governor under the new state constitution in 1790, Mifflin served for nine years, a period highlighted by his constant effort to minimize partisan politics in order to build a consensus. Although disagreeing with the federal government’s position on several issues, Mifflin fully supported Washington’s efforts to maintain the national government’s primacy. He used militia, for example, to control French privateers who were trying to use Philadelphia as a base in violation of American neutrality. He also commanded Pennsylvania’s contingent called out in 1794 to deal with the so-called Whiskey Rebellion, even though he was in sympathy with the economic plight of the aroused western farmers.

In these incidents Mifflin regarded the principle of the common good as more important than transitory issues or local concerns. This same sense of nationalism led him to urge the national government to adopt policies designed to strengthen the country both economically and politically. He led a drive for internal improvements to open the west to eastern ports. He prodded the government to promote “National felicity and opulence … by encouraging industry, disseminating knowledge, and raising our social compact upon the permanent foundations of liberty and virtue.” In his own state he devised a financial system to fund such programs. He also took very seriously his role as commander of the state militia, devoting considerable time to its training so that it would be able to reinforce the Regular Army.

Mifflin retired in 1799, his health debilitated and his personal finances in disarray. In a gesture both apt and kind, the commander of the Philadelphia militia (perpetuated by today’s 111th Infantry and 103rd Engineer Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National Guard) resigned so that the new governor might commission Mifflin as the major-general commanding the states senior contingent. Voters also returned him one more time to the state legislature. He died on 23 January 1800 during the session and was buried (at state expense, since his estate was too small to cover funeral costs,) at Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Have We Forgotten Our Heroes? Chapter 13

81211921_138143219640 StorzName: Ronald Edward Storz
Branch/Rank: United States Air Force/O3
Date of Birth: 21 October 1933
Home City of Record: SOUTH OZONE PARK NY
Date of Loss: 28 April 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War/Died in Captivity
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1A

The following is QUOTED directly from THE PASSING OF THE NIGHT, by Brigadier Gen Robinson Risner, Copyright 1973, Ballantine Books. Pages 63 – 71.

“One day they replaced Shumaker with Air Force Captain Ron Storz.  I tapped on the wall to him, got his name, and so forth.  He said that up until this move, he had been living with Captain Scotty Morgan.  “I leaned on the door and broke the lock.  Now I am over here alone being punished.” Ron told me he had been shot down in an L 1 9, one of those little planes called grasshoppers.  Since he, as a forward air controller, normally worked with Vietnamese ground forces, he would carry a Vietnamese officer in the back seat.  His mission was to circle and spot enemy positions or helps the artillery batteries adjust for accuracy. “One afternoon I decided to go up and buzz around by myself.  I was just looking the area over, and I circled real close to the Ben Hi River.  I knew that was the seventeenth parallel, but I didn’t mean to get over the river. When I did, a Vietnamese gun got me, and tries as I might, I could not keep from crashing on the north side.  I thought they were going to kill me when I got out of the airplane.  They made me get down on my knees.  One of the officers took my gun, cocked it and put it against my head.  I figured I was a goner.” He had been in prison for some time and really wanted to talk.  I could hear him moving around in the other cell.  He hollered out the back vent as Bob before him had done, but I could never understand him.  We tapped on the wall, but it was too slow and unsatisfactory.

There were a lot of things we wanted to tell each other.  Finally he asked, by tapping, “Have you tried boring a hole through the wall yet?” I told him I had tried several places but could not get through.  “Each time I try, I hit a brick after I’ve gone in maybe eight to twelve inches.” I had several partial holes; in fact, the wall looked like a piece of Swiss cheese. “Well, I’ll try, too.” Pretty soon I heard some scraping and grinding.  By that afternoon he was through. His hands were blistered, but he had made it.  That gave me some incentive to try to go through the other wall.  I really went to work, and I punched through there, too.  We passed our tools through and let them work in the next room.  In a few days, every room was connected up and down the hall.

Once we got the holes bored through, Ron said, “I’m really down in the mouth.” I asked what the matter was.  “Well, just the fact that I have nothing.  They have taken everything away from me. They took my shoes, my flying suit, and everything I possessed.  They even took my glasses.  I don’t have a single thing.  They took everything.” Ron had indicated to me that he planned to become a minister when he got back to America. Consequently we talked about religion quite a bit, as all of us did.  When he said he was depressed because they had taken everything, I told him, “Ron, I don’t think we really have lost everything.” “What do you mean?” “According to the Bible, we are sons of God.  Everything out there in the courtyard, all the buildings and the whole shooting match belong to God. Since we are children of God, you might say that all belongs to us, too.” There was a long pause.  “Let me think about it, and I’ll call you back.” After a while he called back, “I really feel a lot better.  In fact, every time I get to thinking about it, I have to laugh.” “What do you mean?” “I am just loaning it to them.” I will never forget the day he called me and told me, “They’re trying to make me come to attention for the guards and I will not do it.  What do you think I ought to do?” “What do they do?” “They cut my legs with a bayonet, trying to make me put my feet together.  I am just not going to do it.” I knew he meant it.  He was an extremely strong man.  I thought about it for a while, then I called back, “Ron, I’m afraid we don’t have the power to combat them by physical force.  I believe I would reconsider.  Then, if we decide differently, we all should resist simultaneously.  With only you resisting while everybody else is doing it means you are bound to lose.” He said, “Okay.” I knew, though, that if I had said, “Ron, hang tough! Refuse to snap to,” he would have done it without batting an eye.  He was just that kind of man and he proved it a short time later.

It happened after we had begun to set up a covert communications system throughout the Zoo.  By means of the holes in the walls, special hiding places in the latrine and other ways, we could pass a message through the entire camp within two days.  I had put out directives establishing committees and worked out a staff.  Certain people had been assigned specific jobs.  One man was heading up our communications section.  We had a committee working on escape.  And we kept a current list of all the POWs and their shoot-down date. I then decided to put out a bulletin.  It was not too large, but it contained directives, policies and suggestions.  Since Ron was next door to me, I dictated it to him, and he wrote it down.  Despite the Vietnamese’s denying us our dues as POWs, I still felt that we could outsmart them by using tactics such as these.  We had only been at the Zoo around four weeks; given time, I reasoned, we could begin to effect some changes. I could not have been more wrong. One day during this period, a guard came in and made me stand at attention with my back to the wall. In a few minutes the Dog came in with another Vietnamese in a white shirt. The Dog did not say who the civilian was, but he paid him a lot of deference.  Using the Dog as an interpreter, the civilian made a statement: “I understand you are also a Korean hero.” I was still standing braced against the Wall.  “That is military information and I cannot answer.  I can give you only my name, rank, serial number and date of birth.” When he heard the translation, the cords in his neck swelled up and he tamed red in the face. “We know how to handle your kind.  We are preparing for you now.” He turned and stomped out. The Dog came back in a little while.  He was either so scared or mad that he was still trembling “You have made the gravest mistake in your life.  You will really suffer for this.”

With that threat he left. A few days later a guard caught the men two cells above me talking through the hole in the wall to Ron.  He also found some written material.  Then he went into Ron’s room and caught him by surprise.  He took two pieces of written work Ron had prepared; one was a list of all the POW names, the other was one of the bulletins I had put out.  To make matters worse, Ron had put my real name on the newssheet instead of my code name, “Cochise.” While still in the cell, one of the guards began reading the two sheets.  Ron reached over, snatched one and ate it while holding them off with one hand.  Unfortunately he had grabbed the wrong one.  He ate the list of names which was not too important, but they kept the list of directives. They also found the hole in the wall.  This so excited them that they stepped out in the hall yelling for reinforcements. While they were out, Ron ran over to my wall and beat out an emergency signal to come to our hole in the wall. They searched and found everything. I ate the list of names, but they got the policies. Get rid of anything you don’t want them to find.” I told him to deny everything, and I would do the same.

He just had time enough to stuff the plug back in the hole when they came and took him away. I passed the warning down to the other two rooms and they began to clean house.  As fast as possible I began to try and dispose of anything incriminating.  The steel rods that we had been using to bore the holes in the walls I put under the floor through the grate.  I destroyed lots of paperwork, but the fat was in the fire.  A big shakedown was on.  One thing I had not destroyed was a sheet of toilet paper that had the Morse code on it.  I didn’t think it was any big deal or I would have gotten rid of it. This was one of the pieces of evidence they would use to accuse me of running a communications system.  The irony of it was that I actually was relearning the Morse code with the knowledge of my turnkey.  He had even written his name on it for me.

They put Ron in another room for three days and nights without anything at all – no food, water, bedding, blankets or mosquito net.  They just shoved him in and left him there.  He not only got cold, but the mosquitoes chewed on him all night. They took me before the camp commander for interrogation.  He had the piece of paper Ron had not been able to destroy and started reading the fourteen items it listed, such as: gather all string, nails and wire; save whatever soap or medicine you get; familiarize yourself with any possible escape routes; become acquainted with the guards, and in general follow the policy that “you can catch more flies with sugar than, with vinegar.” I denied the paper was mine.  “Storz has already admitted everything and said you were responsible.” I knew that was a lie.

They would have had to kill Ron before he did that.  He might admit to his having done it, but he would never say that somebody else had.  They, of course, told him the same thing and said that I had admitted everything, and all he had to do was confirm it. After making the usual number of threats, they took me back to a different room at the end of the building.  They left me a pencil and paper and told me to write out a confession that I had violated prison rules.  “If you do not, you will be severely punished.” The first thing I knew, I heard a tap. It was Ron Storz in the next room.  We exchanged what had happened in interrogation. I said, “Remember, I’ll never confess to anything.” “Roger, I won’t either.” He then tapped, “God bless you.” I sent back a GBU. I later heard that Ron was put in Alcatraz, a harsh punishment camp.  Though he was an extremely strong man, the torture began to get through to him. The North Vietnamese hated him so that even when they moved out all the other POWs, they left Ron there alone. I later saw one of the postage stamps put out by the North Vietnamese.  It was typical North Vietnamese propaganda.  On it is a picture of an American POW.  He is big and tall.  Behind him is a teen-age girl, very small, holding a rifle on him.  The American was Ron Storz. When making their report on the POWs in 1973, the North Vietnamese said that Ron Storz “died in captivity.” Ron Storz died as he lived – a brave American fighting man who considered his principles more valuable than his life.”

Ron Storz was beaten unconscious and died on 23 April 1970. His remains were recovered and returned on March 6, 1974.

William Samuel Johnson – Signer of the United States Constitution – Connecticut

3712William Samuel Johnson was one of the best educated of the Founding Fathers. His knowledge of the law led him to oppose taxation without representation as a violation of the colonists’ rights as Englishmen, but his strong ties with Great Britain made renunciation of the King personally reprehensible. Torn by conflicting loyalties, he remained neutral during the Revolution, speaking out only against extremism on both sides. Once George III accepted American independence, however, Johnson felt released from his allegiance and readily committed his considerable intellectual abilities to the strengthening of the new nation. Fellow delegate William Pierce said of him, “Johnson possesses the manners of a Gentleman and engages the Hearts of Men by the sweetness of his temper, and that affectionate style of address with which he accosts his acquaintance …. eloquent and clear, always abounding with information and instruction, . . . [He is] one of the first classics in America.”

Johnson was already a prominent figure before the Revolution. The son of a well-known Anglican clergyman and later president of King’s (Columbia) College, Johnson received his primary education at home. He then graduated from Yale College in 1744, going on to receive a master’s degree from his alma mater in 1747 (as well as an honorary degree from Harvard the same year). Although his father urged him to enter the clergy, Johnson decided instead to pursue a legal career. Self-educated in the law, he quickly developed an important clientele and established business connections extending beyond the boundaries of his native colony. He also held a commission in the Connecticut colonial militia for over 20 years, rising to the rank of colonel, and he served in the lower house of the Connecticut legislature (1761 and 1765) and in the upper house (1766 and 1771-75). He was a member as well of the colony’s supreme court (1772-74).

Johnson was first attracted to the Patriot cause by what he and his associates considered Parliament’s unwarranted interference in the     government of the colonies. He attended the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and served on the committee that drafted an address to the King arguing the right of the colonies to decide tax policies for themselves. He opposed the Townshend Acts passed by Parliament in 1767 to pay for the French and Indian War and supported the non-importation agreements devised by the colonies to protest taxation without representation.

As the Patriots became more radical in their demands for independence, Johnson found it difficult to commit himself wholeheartedly to the cause. Although he believed British policy unwise, he found it difficult to break his own connections with the mother country. A scholar of international renown, he had many friends in Britain and among the American Loyalists. As the famous English author, Samuel Johnson, said of him, “Of all those whom the various accidents of life have brought within my notice, there is scarce anyone whose acquaintance I have more desired to cultivate than yours.” He was also bound to Britain by religious and professional ties. He enjoyed close associations with the Anglican Church in England and with the scholarly community at Oxford,  which awarded him an honorary degree in 1766. He lived in London from 1767 to 1771, serving as Connecticut’s agent in its attempt to settle the colony’s title to Indian lands.

Fearing the consequences of independence for both the colonies and the mother country, Johnson sought to avoid extremism and to reach a compromise on the outstanding political differences between the protagonists. He rejected his election to the First Continental Congress, a move strongly criticized by the Patriots, who removed him from his militia command. He was also strongly criticized when, seeking an end to the fighting after Lexington and Concord, he personally visited the British commander, General Thomas Gage. The incident led to his arrest for communicating with the enemy, but the charges were eventually dropped.

Johnson’s pro-peace activities apparently never seriously damaged his prestige. He served as a legal counsel for Connecticut in its dispute     with Pennsylvania over western lands (1779-80) and was nominated by Joseph Reed, president of the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania), to succeed him as head of the college.

Once independence was achieved, Johnson felt free to participate in the government of the new nation, serving in the Continental Congress (1785-87). His influence as a delegate was recognized by his contemporaries. Jeremiah Wadsworth wrote of him to a friend, “Dr. Johnson has, I believe, much more influence than either you or myself. The Southern Delegates are vastly fond of him.”

Johnson played a major role as one of the Convention’s most important and respected delegates.  His eloquent speeches on the subject of representation carried great weight during the debate. He looked to a strong federal government to protect the rights of Connecticut and the other small states from encroachment by their more powerful neighbors. To that end he supported the so-called New Jersey Plan, which called for equal representation of the states in the national legislature.

In general, he favored extension of federal authority. He argued that the judicial power “ought to extend to equity as well as law” (the words     “in law and equity” were adopted at his motion) or, in other words, that the inflexibility of the law had to be tempered by fairness. He denied that there could be treason against a separate state since sovereignty was “in the Union;” and he opposed prohibition of any ex post facto law, one which made an act a criminal offense retroactively, because such prohibition implied “an improper suspicion of the National Legislature.”

Johnson was influential even in the final stages of framing the Constitution. He gave his fullest support to the Connecticut Compromise,     which foreshadowed the final Great Compromise that devised a national legislature with a Senate that provided equal representation for all states and a House of Representatives based on population. He also served on the Committee of Style, which framed the final form of the document.

Johnson played an active role in Connecticut’s ratification process, emphasizing the advantages that would accrue to the small states under the Constitution. He was especially proud of the document’s legal clauses, in which “the force, which is to be employed, is the energy of Law; and this force is to operate only on individuals, who fail in their duty to their country.”

As one of Connecticut’s first senators (1789-91), Johnson took an active part in shaping the Judiciary Act of 1789, a critical law that established the details of the federal judiciary system. He also supported Hamiltonian measures that sought to strengthen the role of the executive in the federal government, but voted against giving the President the power to remove cabinet officers without senatorial approval. Johnson had become president of Columbia College in 1787, and when the federal government moved from New York to Philadelphia at the end of the First Congress, he retired from public office to retain his position at the school.

As president of Columbia to 1800, Johnson recruited faculty members and established the school on a firm financial basis. While maintaining the school’s strongly religious spirit, he did much to improve its prestige and reputation for scholarship. As a prominent Anglican layman, he also helped reorganize the church under a new, American episcopate.

He was born on 7 October 1727, in Stratford, Connecticut and passed on 14 November 1819, in Stratford, Connecticut. He is buried in the Old Episcopal Cemetery in Stratford, Connecticut.

Richard Bassett – Signer of the United States Constitution – Delaware

th2C99Y252Richard Bassett was born at Bohemia Ferry in the Province of Maryland’s Cecil County. His mother, Judith Thompson, had married part-time tavern-owner and farmer Michael Bassett who deserted the family during Richard’s childhood. Since Judith Thompson was the great-granddaughter and heiress of Augustine Herrman, the original owner of Cecil County’s massive estate of Bohemia Manor, her family raised young Richard. Eventually this heritage provided him with inherited wealth, including the Bohemia Manor plantation as well as much other property in Delaware’s New Castle County.

Bassett studied law under Judge Robert Goldsborough of Province of Maryland’s Dorchester County and, in 1770, was admitted to the Bar. He moved to Delaware and began a practice in Kent County’s court town of Dover, which, in 1777, became the newly independent state’s capital city. By concentrating on agricultural pursuits as well as religious and charitable concerns, he quickly established himself amongst the local gentry and “developed a reputation for hospitality and philanthropy.” In 1774, at the age of 29, Richard married Ann Ennals and they had three children, Richard Ennals, Ann (known as Nancy) and Mary. After Ann Ennals’ death he married Betsy Garnett in 1796. They were active members of the Methodist Church, and gave the church much of their time and attention.

Bassett was a reluctant revolutionary, more closely in tune with the approach of George Read than with his neighbors from Kent County, Caesar Rodney and John Haslet. Nevertheless, in 1774 he was elected to the local Boston Relief Committee. When the new government of Delaware was organized, Bassett served on the 1776 Delaware Council of Safety, and was a member of the convention responsible for drafting the Delaware Constitution of 1776, which was adopted September 20, 1776. He was then one of the conservatives elected to 1st Delaware General Assembly, and served for four sessions, from 1776-80. Subsequently, he was a member of the House of Assembly for the 1780-82 sessions, and returned to the Legislative Council, for three sessions from 1782-85. He concluded his state legislative career with a final term in the House of Assembly during the 1786-87 session. He thereby represented Kent County in all but one session of the Delaware General Assembly from independence to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution of 1787.

However, Bassett’s most notable contributions during the American Revolution were his efforts to mobilize the state’s military. Some sources credit him with developing the plans for raising and staffing the 1st Delaware Regiment, with his neighbor, John Haslet at its command. Known as the “Delaware Continentals” or “Delaware Blues”, they were from the smallest state, but at some 800 men, were the largest battalion in the Continental Army. In 1776, historian David McCullough describes them as “turned out in handsome red trimmed blue coats, white waistcoats, buckskin breeches, white woolen stockings, and carrying fine, ‘lately imported’ English muskets”. Raised in early 1776, they went into service in July and August 1776. Bassett also participated in the recruitment of the reserve militia that served in the “Flying Camp” of 1776, and the Dover Light Infantry, led by another neighbor, Thomas Rodney.

When the British Army marched through northern New Castle County, on the way to the Battle of Brandywine and the capture of Philadelphia, Bassett “appears to have joined his friend Rodney in the field as a volunteer”. Once the Delaware militia returned home after the British retired from the area, Bassett continued as a part-time soldier, assuming command of the Dover Light Horse, Kent County’s militia cavalry unit. In 1799 Bassett was elected governor of Delaware and held his position until 1801.

Bassett was one of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and, without supplying much input, signed the Constitution. Meanwhile, the Delaware Constitution of 1776 was in need of revision, and Bassett once again joined with another of Delaware’s Founding Fathers, John Dickinson in leading the convention to draft a revision, which became the Delaware Constitution of 1792. Upon his retirement from the United States Senate in 1793, Bassett began a six-year term as the first Chief Justice of the Delaware Court of Common Pleas. At the time it was a court of general civil jurisdiction and the predecessor of the present Delaware Superior Court. By this time Bassett was formally a member of the Federalist Party, and as such was elected Governor of Delaware in 1799. It was during his time in office that Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours first came to Delaware to begin his gunpowder business.

It was also during his term as governor that Thomas Jefferson was elected President of the United States, causing great concern for the future of the country among the Federalists. The retiring President John Adams, rushed the Judiciary Act of 1801 through the Federalist 6th Congress, creating a number of new judgeships on the United States circuit courts. Being a staunch Federalist and old political ally, Adams, on his last day in office, February 18, 1801, appointed Bassett, as part of the so-called “midnight judge” appointments, to one of the positions, judge of the Third Circuit. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 20, 1801, and received his commission the same day. But the legislation was repealed by the new Jeffersonian 7th Congress, and his tenure ended quickly on July 1, 1802. He never again held public office.

In addition to his high-profile in government, Bassett was a devout and energetic convert to Methodism. Having met Francis Asbury in 1778 at the home of their mutual friend, Judge Thomas White, Bassett soon had a conversion experience, and for the remainder of his life devoted much of his attention and wealth to the promotion of Methodism. He and Asbury remained lifelong friends. This association caused him to become linked in many people’s minds to the loyalists, as both White and Asbury were viewed to be opposed to the war. But it also led to a strong abolitionist belief, which led him to free his own slaves and advocate the emancipation of others.

Bassett died at Bohemia Manor and was first buried there. In 1865 his remains were moved to a Bassett and Bayard mausoleum in the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington.