Matthew 16:18 – And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV)
One day as I was idly surfing the net, I came across a photograph of the circa 1828 modest wooden clapboard church in northern Europe where my maternal grandparents were married in 1888 and where my mother and her two sisters were baptized in the closing years of the nineteenth century. I was so excited and moved by the unexpected find that I set the photograph as background on my computer monitor and continue to be inspired by it every time I turn my computer on.
Not only has that church now stood for 178 years, but also another church, which my grandparents established upon their arrival as homesteaders in northern Saskatchewan in 1906 with little more than the clothes on their backs and a lot of faith, has celebrated its hundredth anniversary. A number of people who were raised in that congregation have gone on to full-time Christian ministry work or have been active in churches in the often far-flung places to which they have moved. Some of their children will undoubtedly do the same, as will some of their children after them.
It probably did not really occur to the pastor and members of that 1828 congregation that its influence would ever extend beyond the confines of their own secluded mountain valley. But it would be impossible to even begin to estimate just how many lives have in fact been changed around the world in those 178 years as a result of that little church in that secluded mountain valley.
Will the influence of our churches of today still be felt 178 years from now? It is a question that we should be seriously asking ourselves.
Prayer: Remind us, Lord, that as we deal with necessary church business and form and ritual, we are building for eternity. Amen.