Shining a light against loneliness
When Dr. Fred Craddock visited this area a few years ago, he told a story appropriate for today.
It was one of those moments of transition that comes to people’s lives. With the death of his mother, Dr. Craddock returned to his childhood home in Tennessee.
He had gotten through the Wednesday afternoon funeral service, but felt the need to return to church that evening. Since the First Christian Church there did not have Wednesday night worship, he asked an old friend if he could attend the Baptist church with him.
As the noted Bible scholar and evangelist sat in the pew, he noticed the fine new stained-glass windows in the church. His eye ran across the names of the people who had given windows in memory of loved ones, and he was struck by an odd fact. He did not know a single one.
After the service he commented to his friend, how strange this was. It was true that he had not lived in that town for a while, but he certainly should have known some of the people.
His friend explained the windows were originally ordered by a church in St. Louis. They had been built, however, to the wrong size. The manufacturer made some new windows, and the church in the small Tennessee town found a bargain.
“But what about the names?” Dr. Craddock asked.
“There was quite a discussion about that,” his friend replied, probably with some understatement. The final verdict was the members of the Tennessee church found in those alien names a sense those Christians in St. Louis were worshiping with them.
Sunday we celebrate the birth of a baby in a stable. While man has spent much of the past 2,000 years discussing, debating and denying that event, one of the central messages I think God was trying to give us through the birth, death and resurrection of his son is that we are not alone.
Life today tends to divide us into little categories. We have become so compartmentalized we find ourselves in several single member organizations. The unblinking eye of a television fed by a DVR that thinks that every hour is midnight lures us into solitary confinement in dwellings that truthfully may be our only safe haven from a violent and uncertain world.
There can come moments, however. You can be in the middle of 100, lying next to someone or beyond the range of another human voice when a cold dread can grip you, despite rationalizations that you are too old for Boogie men. Against the loneliness angst, another writer offered a question. “What can separate us from the love of God?” Paul asked. He detailed the physical boundaries of his world and concluded that not even death stood between us and the presence of the Father. In a cell or the grave…
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