When Julius Caesar came to Alexandria, he was show the coffin of Alexander the Great. He then was asked if he would like to see Ptolemy’s coffin. He said, “I came to see a king, not a corpse.” When we come to church, we come to see a King, not a corpse!
There is much to be learned from reading epitaphs. There is a wonderful epitaph on the grave of a Patience Holmes. It is so popular that it has been used on many other gravestones in New England. Patience died in 1845, age 24, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The epitaph says:
Years ago when Bishop Brown of the Episcopal Church came to speak in Virginia’s historic St. Luke's Church, Isle of Wight County, he said, “It has been said that Bishop Brown wants to be buried in St. Luke’s graveyard. That’s nonsense. I’m here to tell you that Bishop Brown doesn’t want to be buried anywhere.”
Is it possible that what begins as a memorial can become a presence? Imagine if you stood before the Washington Monument and suddenly the father of our country was at your side. When we come around the Lord’s Table, we come to a memorial of the dying Christ and find ourselves suddenly confronted with the living Christ.
According to recent news reports, in Greensboro, N.C., an 11-year-old boy discovered a purse with $2,000 inside. The boy suspected it was stolen and turned it in to police. The boy, Edward Myers, was helping plant trees in a park when he found the purse. He could be an example to people much older. We also can hope for a day when honesty does not surprise people.
In Mel Lazarus’ comic "Momma," the title character is visiting her shiftless son who is still in bed. She says, “Francis, do you ever think about the challenges in life?” He replies, “Constantly, Momma. I’ve been doing it for years—and have actually figured out how to avoid most of them.” Challenges come to all. There is no way, no matter how much we wish it so, to avoid the challenges of life.
In Saratoga, N.Y., there is a strange monument. It is comprised of a sculpture of a boot and an inscription of praise that never mentions by name the one being memorialized. The monument is in honor of Benedict Arnold, a brave Revolutionary War general before he became a traitor.
A drunken man stumbles across a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to walk into the water and stand next to the old country preacher. The minister notices the old drunk and says, "Mister, are you ready to find Jesus?"
In a recent edition of his "Breakpoint" commentary, Chuck Colson talked about a recent landmark study demonstrating that abstinence programs are the most effective sex-education available: “The study was undertaken by University of Pennsylvania professor John Jemmott III. [Six hundred sixty-two] young girls were randomly assigned to one of five groups, including a control group. Some kids were taught contraceptive-based 'safe sex' education; others were taught to delay having sex; some girls were given a comprehensive message that included contraceptive information. Others were given general health messages about diet and exercise."
The teacher gave her fifth grade class an assignment: They were to have their parents tell them a story with a moral at the end. The next day, the kids came back and one by one began to tell their stories.
A woman woke up one morning, turned to her husband and said, "Honey, I just had a dream that you bought me a new gold necklace. What do you think it means?" He answered, "I don't know, but Valentine's Day is coming soon. Then you'll know."
A distraught dog owner called his vet pleading for an immediate appointment. He explained that his dog had a large growth or swelling near the corner of its mouth. The vet told him to bring the animal right over.
In his "One Minute Uplift" newsletter, Rick Ezell tells this story: "A university professor tells of being invited to speak at a military base in December and their meeting an unforgettable soldier named Ralph. Ralph had been sent to meet him at the airport; and after they had introduced themselves, they headed toward the baggage claim. As they walked down the concourse, Ralph kept disappearing -- once to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open, once to lift two toddlers up to where they could see Santa Claus, and again to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a big smile on his face."
A man was driving home from a fishing trip in northern Michigan with his boat in tow. He had engine trouble a few miles inland from Lake Huron and didn't have a CB radio in his car, so he decided to use his marine radio to get help. Climbing into his boat, he broadcast his call letters and asked for assistance. A Coast Guard officer responded, "Please give your location."
Ronald Meredith describes one quiet night in early spring: “Suddenly out of the night came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon? It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known."
A well-respected surgeon was relaxing on his sofa one evening just after arriving home from work. As he was tuning into the evening news, the phone rang. The doctor calmly answered it and heard the familiar voice of a colleague on the other end of the line.
Don Wilton writes: "People quit on us when they don't feel valued. George and Mary Lou were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. A reporter asked George, 'What's your recipe for a long, happy marriage?' George explained that after the wedding his father-in-law handed him a package. Inside it was a gold watch that George still used. He showed it to the reporter. Across the face of the watch where he could see it a dozen times a day, were written the words, 'Say something nice to Mary Lou.'"
Jack received a free ticket to the Super Bowl from his company. Unfortunately, when Jack arrived at the stadium he realized the seat was in the last row in the corner of the stadium. He was closer to the Goodyear Blimp than the field!
In his sermon "How to Hear God Speak," Rick Warren talks about the problem of distractions that keep us from listening to the Lord: "Many of you did what I did last Mother's Day. You picked up the phone and dialed your mom to say, 'Happy Mother's Day,' and as you were doing it, you get the same little message, 'Sorry, but all the circuits are busy.' Everybody else in America was calling their mothers.
Grandma and Grandpa were sitting in their porch rockers watching the beautiful sunset and reminiscing about "the good old days," when Grandma turned to Grandpa and said, "Honey, do you remember when we first started dating and you used to casually reach over and take my hand?"