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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Today we conclude our series of centennial reflections
by sharing words from John Timothy Stone's
February 13, 1921, sermon on the fiftieth anniversary
of the congregation, words that not only reflect on
the past and present but look to the future

Scripture Reading: Haggai 2:9
The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith Jehovah of hosts; and in this place will I give peace. (KJV)

It is not enough to associate the past with the personal or even the general experiences to which our minds revert at such a time as this. Our heritage is not a museum, neither a mere accumulation; nor is it simply past deeds, nor hallowed associations. True memory has to do with influences which have been, and as we look back, we realize that “others have labored and we have entered into their labors.”

There is also in our hearts at such a time an appreciation of the continued blessings of God, for “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” . . . The God who sustained will sustain. No matter what the anxiety of life may be, the consciousness that the God of all this earth is looking down upon God’s church to bless, strengthen, comfort, and develop is ours, and we are at peace.

The characteristics which grow out of these facts are worthy also of our thought. There are four: Strength, Courage, Faithfulness, Success.

We are to be strong; we are to be courageous (and such courage means to “attempt great things for God,” realizing God’s faith in us as far greater than our faith in God), and this courage . . . is not daunted by new enterprise, nor new endeavor. . . .

But what of the present? Of the today! Yesterday brings us to a responsibility. We have never had such opportunities as at present. Facing the past and gaining from it the present opportunity, may we give our lives to the future.

Holy One, the memories of the hour give to us increasingly a consciousness of God’s blessing, resulting in peace. Help us to stand firm on the rock foundation. May we respond to needs with a hopeful, earnest, strong, and courageous soul, setting ourselves to the tasks which are ours. And may our age and you, O God, give an amen to our life of service. So may it be. Amen.

Written by John Timothy Stone
Pastor of Fourth Presyterian Church (1909–1930)

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