Wednesday, April 19, 2017


There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

The little church was on fire. Black smoke billowed from the peaked roof and poured from the windows into the April day. Easter Monday. A day for rejoicing. A day for remembering. And yet, on this day when the faithful flock of the church had so recently sung hymns of praise, they looked on mournfully.

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

Lost. Records of births and deaths and marriages. Pieces of paper crumbling away as the fire scorched it's way through the office. Gone, memories of long ago saints who had prayed in this church that had stood on this spot since 1885.

a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

But the cross was saved. The cross that had stood at the front of the church for decades, beckoning the faithful to reverently bow before it and recall the sacrifice of Jesus, was miraculously saved, carried out by a fireman and set carefully on the lawn.

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Gone were hymnals and Easter Sunday bulletins, prayer books and cards. Gone were paper fans and carpets. Gone, but not forgotten. The celebration of Resurrection Sunday, still so clear in the minds of the saints, still rang out with the joyous news. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

The cross was saved. Leaning against a tree trunk, scorched and blackened with smoke, the processional cross stood as a sentinel against the blaze that roared for two hours, taking a hundred fire fighters to control its wrath.

a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

Gone were the choir robes, the vestries, the toys in the upstairs nursery. Lost forever were the children's story books and the stuffed animals and the pictures of lions and lambs in a peaceful garden.

a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

But the cross was saved. It was heavy. It was bruised. But it had survived.

a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

And this church, too, will survive. It will once again ring with community dinners held  in the basement, hymn sings in the auditorium, and strawberry festivals on the back field. It, like the cross, will be saved.

Because for this small flock, in this small corner of Delaware County, the church is not merely a building of brick and stone. The church is a living, breathing organism, changing when it needs to change. Just as a fire has laid the building low, a spiritual fire can renew and rebuild it.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens

Because despite the loss on this Easter Monday, despite the sadness and the tears and the uncertainty, the cross was saved.

Dedicated my faithful friends at Memorial Presbyterian Church, Boothwyn, PA