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December 27th, 2008

SING LOUDER, CHRISTIANS!


AFTER A SPEECH, PRO-LIFE ACTIVIST PENNY LEE WAS APPROACHED BY AN OLD MAN. WEEPING.   HE TOLD HER THE FOLLOWING STORY:

“I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews But like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?

“A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when on Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!

“Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more.

“Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.

“Now, so many years later, I see it happening all over again in America. God forgive you as Americans for you have blocked out the screams of millions of your own children. The holocaust is here. The response is the same as it was in my country—SILENCE!”

COMMENTARY
By  PENNY LEA

Have you ever wondered how people could have stood by and let the holocaust just happen? Do you wonder why the Christians in this story chose to just sing their praise to God a little louder to drown out the victim’s cries?

The old man’s story is in the past. The past cannot be changed. It is easy to think we would act differently now. But the old man’s last words are haunting: “It’s happening all over again in America with abortion. The Holocaust is here.”

As American Christians, we have become so comfortable in our lovely buildings and padded pews. We have beautiful fellowship halls for our many banquets. We have the latest sound equipment for our praise and worship. We have computers to keep our records. We gather together each week and shut ourselves inside our buildings. We raise our voices as loud as we can, all in the name of God.

And yet, in the heavenly realm, our voices raised in praise are drowned out by screams of agony from millions of babies who are being executed before they are born. We can’t see them. We can’t hear them. But it is happening right now! Babies are being aborted UP UNTIL THE DAY OF BIRTH in this country. Their organs and brains are “harvested” for use in medical experimentation. In Wichita, Kansas, the smoke stack from the furnace of Dr. Tiller’s abortion clinic belches out black smoke and the sickening smell of burning flesh. These are the bodies of 7th, 8th and 9th month old babies being “disposed of.”

If the Christians in the old man’s church had done something, they would have probably been killed. That is not the case with us. We don’t even have that as an excuse for our silence. Years from now will you be like that old man trying to explain your apathy as millions were led away to slaughter in abortion clinics? Or will you raise your voice and cry out in protest for those who have no voice?   The choice is YOURS.

~~~

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?   Proverbs 24:11,12

December 27th, 2008

MARY REMEMBERED

My daughter Mary gave me a plaque on Christmas Eve – it looks like the words are engraved on marble.  As I started to write this I thought that it was probably mass-produced in China in a huge plastic molding machine, but when I turned it over it actually says: “PLQ: Light A Candle White Marble.”  So maybe it is marble–there is quite a heft to it.  But it also says “designed in Atlanta made in China.”  Do those Chinese  somehow cut rectangles of marble and somehow engrave them individually?  En masse?  It is a cause for wonder.

Anyhow, it is a very nice plaque and already one of my favorite things.  It reads: It Is Better To Light A Candle Than Curse The Darkness.  When I opened the package and first read the words Mary said, “Remember the curtains?”

“Curtains?”  “What Curtains?”  “Remember what curtains?”  I see no connection between the plaque and  curtains.  Apparently at sometime in the long forgotten past we had white curtains which, according to Mary, had words at the bottom reading “It is better to light a candle” on one side and “Than to curse the darkness” on the other side.  I have no recollection of any such thing.  We had so little money that if we had any curtains in the house at all they were unlikely to have  been purchased at a store other than the Salvation Army Thrift Store.  They must have been kitchen curtains.  Conceivably they were made out of old sheets and I wrote those words there myself.   Who knows?  That sounds like me back then.

The next day I asked son Johnny about the curtains.  He remembers them, too.  They were kitchen curtains, he thinks I made them myself, and he recalls tomatoes on the window sill. Those curtains could have been forty years ago!    When you’re raising seven kids some things get lost in the shuffle but you’d think I would remember something I was so involved in.

The point is:   Mary remembered.   Johnny remembered.  The words registered.  They found them meaningful.  You can never tell when you’re raising a kid what is going to hit home and linger on.

Way back when I was in eighth grade we used to say the Twenty-Third Psalm every morning at school.  That  was permissible in public schools in those days.    I doubt that it was mandated as we learned nothing else religious in the other grades.  Maybe I had a Christian teacher who was allowed to do her thing.  As children, we never questioned. I learned the psalm as almost meaningless rote words.  To this day I can almost say the whole psalm from memory.   As an adult I find it beautiful – and comforting.

The moral is:    Keep filling those kids with good things. They come as empty vessels, blank slates.   Be careful about what goes into those vessels.  Think about what is being written on those slates.  Something is bound to stick and it might as well be something that will serve them well when it surfaces in the future and grabs hold.

This brings to mind the Jesuit maxim, sometimes attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola:  Give me the child till the age of seven and I will show you the man.

It’s better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far that you light just one little candle
All you need’s a tiny spark

If we’d all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn on the new day we’ll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be.
—Perry Como, 1952

~~~

  Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

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