Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pastor Hurray retires


            Dates are important and scary.   My last day as Pastor of Mountville Presbyterian Church will be May 31st.  I will be retiring.  This Pentecost will begin my 15th year as your pastor.  That is a wonderfully long time.  It says a lot about your walk with the Lord.    It will be bittersweet for me to leave and maybe for you as well.  What is most important is the glory of God and the welfare of Mountville church.  This should always be kept in mind.  I am satisfied because of the excellent choice Mountville made a few years ago to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  Because of this you should know that it will not be as difficult to find a good pastor as it was in the PCUSA.  There are many excellent candidates to choose from in our own very area and they have all been thoroughly examined to make sure they are evangelical, Presbyterian and orthodox in their faith and knowledge.  If you have been to Presbytery meetings you know the caliber of EPC pastors – it is delightfully good.  So I don’t have to worry about you there.  Also with so many young children in our church there are plenty of young pastor candidates available who can keep up with them and so identify with them that they will be excited about belonging to Christ’s Church.  So I don’t have to worry about that either.  When I first arrived here I heard that our church was living from hand to mouth financially.  We never had a financial need that I know of while here that wasn’t met.  I hear that expenses have overtaken income now but I feel confident that what God has done while I am here will continue on after I am gone.  God will meet our needs. 
            I received my call to ministry in 1977 and all through my ministry it was God’s hand that called and kept me as a pastor. If anyone experienced God’s help and blessing it was me.   It will be very strange to have our call end.  For both of us we must remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11   “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
            I have never been retired before therefore I don’t know when or how to do it.  My doctors were no help at all but Social Security and my pension plan were – they made me make decisions.  The PCUSA and other mainline denominations tell retired pastors what they are to do.  Here is what they say.  ‘When a minister retires, his relationship with the congregation is altered in ways that must be respected by all persons involved”.  He is no longer the pastor.  It goes on to imply that “nothing appearing like ministry must take place between them for the sake of the new pastor and the new ministry.”  I read a book from a PCUSA Executive that I found sad.  It said basically “For the sake of the church and the new minister the leaving pastor must stay gone.”
            This is especially troublesome because since childhood my father said “You are like that little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dyke.”  I am always like a finger looking for a leaking dam.   Can friendships end?  How can I refuse to be a help in need?  Yet for the sake of the church it sometimes is necessary.  It is a scary time for both of us.  Mountville’s ministry will change just as time has changed us.  Perhaps, new faces will be needed for old jobs.  New ideas will be needed for new situations.  New opportunities must be explored instead of the “same-ole, same-ole”.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is the hand of Christ upon us all leading us to new times and new places to go to serve Him.  We are in fleshy tents that must change places along the trail until we reach that “mansion” Jesus is preparing for us.
            I relish the wonderful times we have had together.  I will remember the faces of those wonderful people who are now absent from the pew and present with the Lord.  I relish the wonderful times of missions to strangers at our coffee stand, going to Mexico, and to Jamaica, New Orleans and everywhere we served together. I enjoyed driving our kids home from Moraine school from CEF after school club and hearing how their days went and screaming “Sit in your seat and put your seat belt on”.   Most of all I enjoyed sharing Sabbath worship with you and those special services we shared.  I enjoyed every precious morning I spent with the Lord in our church office preparing.  Mountville has always been a very special church to the Lord and has been more beautiful, more generous, more kind that churches 100 times larger.  Mountville is a wonderful family.  I can well imagine your next pastor delighting you in encouraging you into a closer walk with the Lord, and using your spiritual gifts.   It delights me even more that this new pastor will continue to work on what we have accomplished over these many years together.
            I want to especially thank you for putting up with that illness that almost did me in.  You were patient, kind and very compassionate, all signs you are following Christ.  I felt guilty being sick but you helped wipe that guilt away.  I am sure you wondered at times whether I would be able to finish a sermon or worship service.  We got through, with God’s help.
            The EPC church is not a mainline denomination with strict rules.  Yet to have a successful new ministry you should keep your face forward, not backward.  It is my new duty as your former pastor to stay out of your way as you discover what Christ has next for you.  My new main duty is to support whoever you call as your next pastor.    I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me.  In 1977 I was enjoying a career with Penn State University when our pastor visited and said to me (but I heard God speaking) “God wants you to go and sign up for seminary tomorrow and if Christ gets you through the hoops you will know you are called!!”  I faced a great many hoops over the years and Christ has brought me through each one. So I will be waiting for the Lord’s new marching orders either on this earth or in heaven.
                                                            From your pastor, Don


Our Communicant’s Class will join church on Pentecost, May 15th.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion will be on Pastor Hurray’s last Sunday, May 29th.


CHRISTIAN HUMOR

The chocolate chip cookies
An elderly man lay dying in his bed, Suddenly death's agony was pushed aside as he smelled the aroma of his favorite homemade chocolate chip cookies wafting up the stairs.
Gathering his remaining strength, he lifted himself up from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with intense concentration, supported himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands. In labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing wide-eyed into the kitchen.
There, spread out on the kitchen table were literally HUNDREDS of his favorite chocolate chip cookies!
Was it heaven? Or, was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?
Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table, landing on his knees in a rumpled posture, one hand on the edge of the table. The aged and withered hand quiveringly made its way to a cookie near the edge of the table.  Feeling the warm soft dough actually made the pain of his bones subside for a moment. His parched lips parted; the wondrous taste of the cookie was already in his mouth; seemingly bringing him back to life.
What, then, was this sudden stinging that caused his hand to recoil?
He looked to see his wife, still holding the spatula she had just used to smack his hand.
"Stay out of those!" she said, "they're for the funeral."








Thursday, January 7, 2016

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

      I have been informed that I haven't updated our webpage lately.  You can say that again - but I am glad someone cared enough to say so.

     I thought what better way to start the new year than to give some important information.

     First - we are Mountville Presbyterian Church (EPC)

     Second - We are in Portersville, Pennsylvania.  To get to our church you get off RT 79N at Portersville Exit, turn left and go a mile to RT 19.  Take RT 19N a block to RT 488, turn left and go 2 miles.  At bottom of hill you will see our church sign.  Turn right and we are halfway up the hill on the Right, 2795 Mountville Road, Portersville.

    Third - our telephone number is 724-368-3385

     Fourth - I am the pastor, Don Michael Hurray

     Fifth - We are an Evangelical Presbyterian Church meaning that we believe the Bible is the Inspired and inerrant Word of God in all its parts.  We also believe the Westminster Confession is a reliable exposition of what Scripture teaches - but the Bible always comes first and foremost in all we do or believe.

     Sixth - Our church has been here since before 1807 which was when we were incorporated

     Seventh - Our Sunday school is each Sunday at 9:30am and worship is at 10:30am

     Eighth - If you are looking for a church that loves Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, believes His Word, follows His light and loves one another look no further.

     Ninth - We have all kinds of special activities with youth, choir, missions, service to God in the community, etc.

     Tenth - We would love for you to come and visit.

 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Something's Gotta Give! God is near!

I am sitting in the beautiful sanctuary of First Pres. Church of Orlando.   It is the last worship service and business meeting.  It is sad.  I had my last walk in the morning heat past the beautiful Eola Lake Park with the huge Disney fountain and lots of animals walking around free.  I prefer the heat outside to the freezing air inside.  I turned off the air in the hotel room but had to turn it on in the middle of the night because it was hot and mostly because it was stuffy.

All through this week we have been hearing the Good News of God’s loving plan for us in Jesus Christ.  Outside this has been a week of bad news as America continues to jump off the rock our forefathers laid in the founding of our country.  Outside we are increasingly hear the demonic boast of NO GOD, NO EVIL, NO MORALITY.   Inside we lifted up God’s Word and it reminded me of a song the McGuire sisters sang when I was very young.  Read the lyrics below

When an irresistible force such as you
Meets and old immovable object like me
You can bet as sure as you live
Something's gotta give
Something's gotta give
Something's gotta give

Fight, fight, fight
Fight, fight it with all of our might
Chances are some heavenly star spangled night
We'll find out as sure as we live
Something's gotta give
Something's gotta give
Something's gotta give

It is sure that liaise fare Christianity is gone – it will take paying a cost to be a Christian.  We will face increasingly greater persecution and be forced more and more to defend our faith in public because we will not bend the knee to the secular Baals around us.

The good news is that we are not alone.  AS the world turns more against Christians Christ will increasingly turn toward us.  At this General Assembly I was on Fraternal Relations and we heard more and more invitations from other denominations and para churches to stick together and affirm together what we believe. 


Back in the 1970s James Dobson said the battle is for this generation and he was right.  Secular forces took our schools, political offices and infused more and more immorality into the entertainment industry.  That generation was affected by it.  But there is a new generation, the lowest generation that is calling itself Christian in our nation’s history.  This is the generation we are called to reach, our children and grandchildren.  This is the generation that will determine if our nation turns back to God.  I pray that it will.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Frigtening

Being Clerk of Fraternal Relations
I am sitting in the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.  I walked about a mile from my hotel to get here.  I have walked to the hotel and back every day of the Assembly through light rain, heavy rain, thunder, ominous clouds and torrential rains.  I hated the last the most because even though it is close to 100 degrees being soaked still makes me feel cold.  They tell me it rains like this practically every afternoon this time of year.

This morning I had breakfast in the top floor banquet room of the Citrus Club.  From there you can look out over all of Orlando but because it is so hot the windows were not clear so I didn’t look much.  I did get a fantastic breakfast from the Reformed Theological Seminary and spoke with officials who tell me that they train ministers for over 60 denominations from countries all over the world.  Well, they know how to feed you.  I had sausage, eggs, bacon, fruit, and excellent coffee.  Then I heard stories of how important it is for seminaries to serve the local church, and to train pastors well for our mission to reach the world with Christ.
Yesterday I was on pins and needles because it was my day to serve as Clerk of Fraternal Relations.  I sat and had breakfast yesterday with officials of the Presbyterian Church of Argentina.  They spoke about their being a part of the Church of Scotland until the British had war with them in the Maldives Islands (I wonder if this includes the Falkland Islands)?  Then the Church of Scotland cut off their funds and they aligned themselves with the EPC church.  In our committee meeting we affirmed our association with them for another five years.  They want more of our pastors and missionaries to assist them in their work there.  I also met the representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil  and we also affirmed our relationship with them.  Both of these churches will address the full General Assembly.  We were also introduced to the Reformed Church of Madagascar which the First Pres. Church of Orlando has been serving many years.  It is a vital growing church and the largest church there with over 5000 congregations .
Our denomination has official associations with the National Association of Evangelicals, the Christian Reformed Church, the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of America, St. Andrews Presbytery in Argentina and the Evangelical Reformed Church of Kazakhstan, Russia.  This means we affirm the same things and can exchange pastors, etc.
I met the Moderator of the Fraternal Relations Committee, Mike Glodo who is President of Reformed Theological Seminary and he horrified me by saying “I hope you know what you are doing because I’m not sure.”  I was going to say the same to him.  But it worked out.
The first item of business was going to be controversial.  It was a motion for our denomination to withdraw from the World Communion of Reformed Churches.  This was because we protested the action of the PCUSA to affirm gay marriage.  Their reply was “We are not aware of the actions of the PCUSA”.  This was insulting and directed the push to disassociate our denomination from them and align ourselves with another more conservative world association of Evangelicals.  But two things caused this to be withdrawn  First, there are many former PCUSA churches that came into the EPC church who had in writing that if they ceased to be a part of the WCRC their property would revert back to the PCUSA.  The other is that we had a representative from the Christian Reformed Church or the Dutch Reformed Church saying that many denominational members around the world are also offended by this ignorance from the WCRC and want to work together to change it.  So the motion was rescinded.
The 2nd item on our schedule was to approve another 5 year association with St. Andrews Presbytery in Argentina.  We heard a report of Presbyterianism in Argentina and about their desire to continue leading people to Christ.  They spoke about their setback with the Church of Scotland because of the antagonism with Argentina and Britain.  We welcomed and approved our association with them.
We approved the minutes of the last year’s meeting and the minutes of the Permanent Committee with just minor grammatical changes.
We received a letter from the Presbyterian Church of America seeking a closer relationship with our denomination and voted to endorse this before the General Assembly.  This was my frantic minute because I had to word the motion precisely and the pressure was great.  I went afterwards into the GA office and sat down with a staff member to make sure it was done right.  And to my pleasure it was.  It will come up on the floor of GA and I hope they don’t call on me for any clarification.  It just means we respond to their desire for a closer association.  I guess this is like the difference between dating and going steady.
We discussed more things about world outreach which is an important vision of our denomination.
Today we had communion and then heard the news that the US Supreme Court has made gay marriage a right in every state.  This caused a great hush to come over the whole assembly because it is very evident that our churches are going to face greater persecution from our own government and many Christians are going to suffer because they fail to bend their knee to this sinful practice.  The communion sermon was made by a Court Judge about the fact that any nation or people who becomes relativistic and inclusive of evil and error in the guise of accepting the idea there is no truth.  We live in a world that is increasingly standing for NO GOD, NO TRUTH, NO SUCH THING AS SIN.  A people or nation that lives by this cannot survive long.   We must prepare to suffer for proclaiming THERE IS A GOD, THERE IS TRUTH AND THERE IS SIN. 
The discussion going on right now is whether non ordained people on mission field can perform the sacraments.  The GA wants to train, examine and ordain such people in these positions but there is great debate about whether it is proper.
Another great focus of this General Assembly is our outreach to the Millennial Generation which in the US is only 13% Christian.  We must find ways to reach our own children and grandchildren with the truth of the Gospel.  One thing in our favor is that this generation becomes devoted to what they believe in unlike other generations.

Another sign of hope was greeting the many churches who have entered our denomination this year.  They are naming the churches one by one and it is taking a very, very long time to get them all in.  Another joy is the growing ministry to College Students that we are doing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Greetings from Orlando, Florida

Report from the 35th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church
                Here I am, sitting in the huge sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Florida.  We just elected a new moderator, Mike Moses.  I have attended seminars on leading our church to be prolife.  This seminar pointed out all the things the abortion industry has hidden from our culture about the harmful effects of abortion and how abortion is destroying the soul of our nation.   I also attended a seminar that our pastors need coaching, mentoring and help in being accountable so we can shine and progress in service to the church and community.
                We are hearing about moving the denomination headquarters to Orlando.  This is because it is more convenient to come here than in Livonia, Mich.  The EPC is also going to be having a big turnover in leadership as more leaders retire.  Orlando is more attractive in attracting new staff and also ease of travel.
                I am the clerk of the Fraternal Relations Committee.  This is an important job especially this year because we will be voting on whether to exit the liberal World Alliance of Reformed Churches, especially because the PCUSA has abandoned its biblical principles.  However this may mean trouble to some churches who, when they left the PCUSA, promised to join a denomination that had ties to this body.  The PCUSA may even try to reclaim these churches.
                It is very crowded but this is a heavenly crowd of new friends in the making.  I have met people from all over the world.   I had a great talk with a mission team from Beirut, Lebanon and the Congo. 
                Churches looking for pastors got up and asked for candidates to apply. There were a great many churches who pleaded for pastoral candidates from Washington, to California, to the Bahamas to Vermont.   We had many times of prayer and singing so loud they said the paint almost peeled off the walls.
All thru the assembly there was a firm emphasis on whom we are and who we are not.
Emphasis – we must start new churches, we must stop losing members, we must be free from protection of church walls and be filled with the Holy Spirit to see what God is doing new among us and pray for vision, to step out and shine for God’s light has come and the glory of the Lord is around us.  An emphasis stated is that we are not called to be successful but to be faithful.
Emphasis – We are a global church and seeing important things happen all around the world.  We heard about more and more Moslems coming to Jesus Christ.  We are in communion with the Presbyterian Church of Argentina, Puerto Rico and other nations wanting to be a part of our church.  We are breaking down geographical walls to incorporate all believers as who we are as the EPC. 
Emphasis – Providing leadership to help each of our churches move together in concert helping pastors with mentoring and coaching, starting new churches, forming new missions dedicated to leading our churches to serve

We exist to carry out the Great Commission To the glory of God, the EPC family aspires to be a global movement of congregations engaged together in God’s mission through transformation, multiplication, and effective biblical leadership, embodying Jesus’ love to our neighbors near and far.
            I am very, very tired, possibly because last night I ate a big, rich piece of chocolate molten lava cake that all the other people at my table couldn’t eat about half.  They wondered how I did it.  I didn’t dare tell them I am both Gluten free and diabetic.   I will try to behave myself better the rest of the week.





Thursday, May 28, 2015

Help me with a strange dream I had

A Strange Dream
                This past week and a half I have been feeling horrible.  The doctor says it is pneumonia.  I have been taking all kinds of medicine but still feel dizzy and can’t breathe and hurt ALL over.  So what?  I have had this before.  But something about being sick brings out strange dreams in me. 
                I work out the meaning of such dreams by writing them down.  Maybe you can figure out why I dreamt this dream.  It isn’t so much a dream as a recollection of the past especially someone I knew in the past.  Since all of these people are gone I won’t be breaking any confidences.
                My dream was about a man named Chris that I met some 40 years ago.  He was about my age, a graduate of Penn State in Engineering.  He came to see me because he wanted to get married.  His finance was divorced and she had a baby.  She was Catholic and he was nothing and they couldn’t be married in the Catholic church.  Usually such couples just call around to find a preacher for hire.  Chris showed up in my office with a chip on his shoulder.  As expected I told him I couldn’t marry them-- not because she was Catholic but because he was not a Christian.  The look he gave me was deadly.  He wanted to know why only 2 Christians can be married in church.  I showed him how the bible warns about being unequally yoked.  He left but both he and his finance were in church that Sunday, then they started attending Sunday school.  He said he had accepted Christ as his Savior.  What caught my attention was how excited and joy filled about Christ both became.  I had many conversations with Debbie about Catholicism and Christianity and she cut thru all the tradition to the Bible root and they surprised everyone with their enthusiasm.  Chris and I talked a lot about science and the Bible and debated continuously.  He was a very intelligent, tough thinker.  He had a great job with the Nuclear Power Plant.   The wedding took place.  It wasn’t a huge affair; in fact it was a very small wedding.  I wondered if I would see the pair again and to my surprise they continued even more enthusiastically.  They brought to church their best man and maid of honor whose name was Liz.  Liz was a young woman who continually struggled with the ravages of cancer.  Her husband was also a Nuclear engineer and a lapsed Catholic but he and his faith were very aloof.  This frail young woman came to church and said she was not supposed to have children but she wanted one so bad but God’s will be done.  This went on for a couple of years.  Chris and Debby had a baby girl.  Chris’ stepson came to Sunday school and was in youth group and Sunday school.   He was a wild pip.  Like his stepfather he was intense, skeptical and always questioning.   I watched this boy grow up and in high school he got his license.  Instead of fooling around he found a very handicapped boy in school and went way out of his way to bring him to church in a wheel chair.  People at first were horrified at this sight but grew used to it.  You would find him taking this boy to the mall, to football and baseball games - - he was committed.
 Then frail Liz found out she was going to have a baby.  Everyone was very frightened for her but the boy was born and I baptized him and he came to church as often as his mother brought him.  His father could care less.
                Liz went through many health battles and I was there at Presby Hospital visiting seeing her being ravaged by disease.  Yet she was always very upbeat and talked about cancer as her enemy that she and God were going to beat because she needed to be there for her son.  She filled me in on doctors and nurses – some care and some don’t.  She told me in hospitals you have to check the meds the nurses bring because they make mistakes and often showed me proof.  Sometimes I wondered if she would survive but each horrible battle she came out and did very well.  Yet it was hard her being sick and raising a young boy.  Chris and Debbie helped as much as they could encouraging his father.  She was held up in prayer at church and we saw many miracles in her life.
                One day Chris was asked to be an elder in spite of the fact some thought he was too young.  He wanted to know everything about being an elder and prayed and thought a long time and said YES.  He had these ideas of how everyone takes their Christianity seriously and was a bit shattered at some things he saw in leadership.  To my annoyance, instead of fighting what he saw was infantile he drew back and just sat back and didn’t do anything but watch with anger in his eyes.
                One day I visited Liz and she knew it was the end.  She asked us to take care of her son and lead him to Christ and she died.  It was a huge funeral because she had impacted so many lives.  Chris was shattered – I mean shattered.  It didn’t make sense; it seemed cruel what she had to go through.  Chris turned mean.  You could tell he turned his anger at God for letting it happen.  And he became more and more in the background.  He didn’t ask questions anymore.  I looked at him and I saw in his eyes a very depressed young man.  I tried to help but knew that look in his eyes “Let me alone!”  At this time he was transferred to a nuclear plant in Texas and it was a painful goodbye.  Not too long after I accepted a call to Pastor in Nebraska.  We were all separated and I thought I wouldn’t hear from them again.  I thought they would have a good, prosperous life in Texas.
                One day I not long after I started in NE Lauren told me that Chris had called.  I wondered what could he possibly want?  The way he was so depressed and mean I wondered if he would become an alcoholic or something worse.  By the time I could get back to him it was too late.  His wife said that he had committed suicide.  I was absolutely stunned and horrified.  I wondered what he wanted to talk to me about and had a hundred afterthoughts of “IF ONLY” I had gotten in touch with him in time. 
                Well, that’s my dream, actually it was a real recounting of something that happened so many years ago.  I still can see that guy’s eyes once so bright and enthusiastic about Christ and life then so filled with anger and pain over the unfairness of life.  I wish I could have done something to help him turn him around and been a friend to him.  I know he was a Christian but I expected Christ to deal with him and make everything turn out well for his family.  He had 2 children to live for, a wonderful wife, a great career.  Something fatally poisoned his soul and I still wonder what I could have done to help.  The extra dream part of my dream was that we couples were on a island filled with monsters and running to a raft.  We were trying to paddle away from the island but the monsters were swimming after us.  I was telling Chris to pick up a paddle and help.  I guess I can figure out that part of the dream.
                Why , after all these years did I have a dream recounting all this stuff?  It is strange the things that come back clear as crystal.  Do I like to torture myself?  If you have any insights let me know.


                

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Cornerstone of Western Civilization and America

How's your spring going?   The weather hasn't been that good so far but we have those teasing days that tell us winter is finally, really over.  The news hasn't been good at all.  We hear about signs in the skies and earth, sunspots and earthquakes.  Humanity isn't doing that good - liberals continue to try to demolish the America we were born into and which was founded upon the faith of the Puritans and Pilgrims in New England and Anglicans in the south and Catholics in Maryland, and Quakers in Pennsylvania and other denominations of Christian faith in other parts of the country.  What has always impressed me about Pennsylvania is that we are called "The Keystone State".  A keystone is a biblical term.  It is defined as "a central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together."  or "The central wedge-shaped stone of an arch that locks its parts together. " Synonyms include "cornerstone, foundation, linchpin, base, principle"

I remember seeing the Pennsylvania keystone on government buildings as the center stone of an arch.  You take the keystone out and the arch collapses.  Why did Pennsylvania adopt the keystone for its symbol?  Was it because our state was founded on the foundational keystone of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  William Penn was a very active Christian leader in England.  Pennsylvania means "Penn's Woods" so maybe Penn put it right in saying the Gospel is the keystone to the state, not Penn.  Others theorize that our state was in the middle of the original 13 colonies, the place a keystone would be in an arch.  That is probably why Philadelphia was the original capital of the United States.  Was it a boast that if Pennsylvania fell the whole United States would collapse?  Or was it something deeper such as - - if the Christian faith and morality of Jesus Christ, which is our keystone was removed ,the keystone, cornerstone would lead to the whole United States imploding?  It would certainly happen in architecture.  I just heard on the radio that lawyers say that if the US Supreme court decides that gay marriage is a national “right” any church that will not do gay weddings will lose its tax exemption.  Commentators speculate that at least half the churches in the US will have to close because of this.  Some say it is the liberal’s plan all along for this to happen.

Is our present age of removing all vestiges of Christianity in America making our country more inclusive, less racist, less homophobic and more ideal?  Or will it result in the collapse of our moral and physical foundation?  Can an arch exist without a cornerstone?

In the bible Jesus calls Himself the "Cornerstone" or “Keystone”.   When Peter confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God" Jesus said "upon this rock I will build my Church".  Jesus said he is the capstone, the cornerstone, the keystone upon which salvation and morality is built.  It was this rock that formed the best in Western Civilization.  This “rock” or “cornerstone” is called the Gospel or “Good News”.  It is the foundation upon which Bible sets on and it the foundation of morality.  This is why our nation’s founding fathers continually referred to God in our foundational documents.  Our nation was not founded upon greed or privileged classes or sectarian churches or immoral selfishness but was founded upon the keystone of biblical faith.  That is why for most of our history America has been called a “Christian nation”.  This was our foundation

 From the chaos of Paganism, from the hatred of uncivilized men and women who looked only after number one Christian morality arose.  Note that the dignity of humanity comes from the founders faith that - - God created us and in Christ saved us.  This is what gives dignity to humankind.  So for most of our history it was a crime to kill innocent life.  Marriage was the national standard for our country with laws against fornication, pornography and homosexuality which were called “crimes against nature and God”.   Even our nation’s emphasis on “freedom” was not unlicensed “do what you want” perversion but the freedom God has given us in Christ to do good, to love one another and to work for justice and peace – not based on human wisdom but on God’s Word.  I once had the privilege to look through many old McGuffy’s readers which were the standard for early American Education and all through these textbooks you could see the goal of education was to make and to make better Christians.  The first act of the new American congress was to hire missionaries to spread the Gospel to the Indians.

Now we come to our present day.  After a persistent chipping away of Christian morality those chippers now proclaim, as our current president boasted “America is no longer a Christian nation.”  In other words “The cornerstone, keystone, foundation has been removed.”  Ask yourself “What happens when a keystone is removed?”  Right, the building collapses.  I do not know what God has planned for our present day but I do know what happens when you remove a keystone.  Even if the wall still stands without its cornerstone it is weakened and eventually it will collapse.

What are the signs of collapse?  When people give up on the keystone anything goes, riots, pollution, no care for human life and wisdom, institutions will rot and fall apart and the place will go to the devil.  When you throw out God, guess who moves in?  And we are seeing more and more signs of this every day.

Fortunately the world is not about us, our wills, our desires, and our faithfulness.  It is all about God’s sovereign will, desires and faithfulness which continue to be our only hope.  When sinful man boasts “We are not a Christian nation!” God laughs.  We are only tiny, powerless humans and He is the God of heaven and earth.  Words can’t change God’s will or plan.

In the Gospel of Matthew a lawyer asks Jesus “What is the greatest commandment.”  Jesus replied ’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'”   Right here we have the keystone, the foundation, the cornerstone, our purpose and plan.  Whether we keep it or not determines whether we are sheep or goats, wheat or weeds, etc.  At the great separation which is surely coming those who boasted they accomplished their plan to “deChristianize” America will find out too late the results of this folly.

In the meantime the primary thing that Christians must do is to remain in the vine, to stay in the Good Shepherds pen, to be the body of Christ, stand upon the rock, to be the house of God, to be the Bride of Christ and all the other metaphors Christ used for His people.   

I like to think the keystone of Pennsylvania and our nation remains the foundational stone we were built upon – the love of God and neighbor, in God we trust, one nation under God, etc.   Let us pray that this fierce storm will subside and people turn to the rock of salvation.  And in the meantime as the storm rages Christ calls us to be His lighthouses so keep shining!!!