One hundred fifty years. That’s a long time. Well, it is for us in this part of the world anyway.
From what I can tell, from the stories I hear, there wasn’t much here then – at least not much in the way of this thing we call “civilization” or “development” or “progress” that we’ve grown so accustomed to. There are stories that you’ve heard that have been passed down. Perhaps from great-great grandparents through your family; stories that speak of the treasure of creation that was present here, but also stories that sustained our parents and grandparents and on back into the past beyond our memories. For there has also been a different treasure in the community here; a treasure that is kept through the stories that you will tell your children, or maybe have already told to your children; stories that you hope will be told to your grandchildren and their children as well.
This month we’re celebrating a piece of a story here at Christ/Upper Fall River Lutheran Churches. Ours is a short story that fits within a broader story that gives our little stories substance and staying power. We all have been blessed to partake of and participate in that bigger story; a story, a word that gives all of our individual stories a good reason to be re-told; it gives them all a footing on which to stand; a foundation that will last.
We celebrate the presence of God’s clear Word in Greenwood County. The Word that has come to us down through the ages, bearing the presence of God’s Truth that sustained our forebears and continues to sustain us and give us joy in the middle of suffering and trials; the presence of Life that gives meaning to our lives beyond the here and now, beyond the limits of our possessions, beyond our own experiences, beyond our 150 years.
We have built foundations for our homes and businesses and trust that they will keep things together for us in this life. Here in Greenwood County those who came before us built churches; structures of wood, stone and brick on foundations of Flint Hills rock. But these buildings, too, will pass. None of the original buildings from 150 years ago remain.
Yet, here we are, celebrating 150 years of history. That is because the real foundations for these buildings are not something that can be seen. For these are holy places; places where this Word is kept holy; where it is given to and received by God’s people; where our Lord comes to us with the two-edged sword of His Word. With the edge of His Law He turns us away from destruction of body and soul and toward Him; He then saves us by the edge of His Gospel through blessings of His Sacraments, feeding us and refreshing us with the streams of His Word of grace and forgiveness.
So I ask you: please keep this foundation strong. Keep hearing the story. Keep telling the story of unseen things to your children. Bring them here to hear the Story with God’s people. Keep receiving that story yourself in Word and in the Sacraments – the only ways in which God comes to us. This is really the foundation that won’t be shaken – that will last beyond the next 150 years.
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone. A precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; . . . .”
- Pr. Tim Meyer