Around the Societies
Something unique in the society life of our churches has been planned by the Young People’s Society of Oaklawn: they have invited the Young People’s Society of Randolph for an overnite visit, intending to have a meeting on a Friday evening and various social activities, including a pancake breakfast on the following Saturday morning. The visiting society would leave for home again on Saturday afternoon.
Among the topics which our young people have been discussing in their after-recess programs are “The Missions, Challenge or Millstone” (Hope) and “The Place of Women in Modern Society” (First).
The young people’s societies of Hull and Doon travelled to Edgerton for a joint meeting on January 23.
The League of Mr. and Mrs. Societies plans to have its spring meeting on April 17 at Hope Church; Rev. R. Harbach will address the League on the subject “Stimulating Interest in our Seminary.”
Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Block changed their membership from First Church to South Holland; Mr. Milton Alsum was received from Randolph by Oaklawn as a member by baptism; Doon welcomed Miss Mary Ann Mantel from Redlands Protestant Reformed Church.
Rev. B. Woudenberg has declined the call from Redlands; Southwest has called Rev. G. Lubbers.
To Mr. and Mrs. Ben Bleyenberg (Hull) who celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary on Feb. 6.
To Mr. and Mrs. John Blankespoor (Doon) who celebrated their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary on Jan. 18.
To Mr. J. Bolt (First) who was eighty-three on Feb. 15.
To Mr. G. Bergsma (First) who was ninety years old on March ll.
To Mrs. F. Decker (First) who was eighty-one on March 6.
Confession of Faith
From Southeast: Roselyn Ondersma, Harlow Kuiper, Lois Schipper and Linda Wiersema.
From First: William Doezema, David Doezema and Roselyn Tryon.
Rang for Mr. Gerrit Schut and Miss Marcia Lou Steenstra (Hudsonville) on Feb. 20.
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Erne Miedema (Hudsonville)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. M. Moore (Loveland)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. J. Schwarz (Loveland)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hoekstra (Hull)
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. D. Mensch (Loveland)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kuiper (Hope)
Twin daughters born to Rev. and Mrs. G. VandenBerg (Oaklawn)
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Peter Poortinga, Jr. (South Holland)
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. C. Kamps (Southeast)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. Arie Nobel (First)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Jansma (Hull)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Corson (First)
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Hop (Edgerton)
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. John Kamps (Hudsonville)
Here and there
May 8 is the date to be reserved for a Choir Festival sponsored by the Hope School Circle.
Easter Sunday will be appropriately concluded with a Singspiration in First Church.
On February 14, Rev. C. Hanko and Mr. H. Meulenberg travelled to South Holland to show their slides and speak concerning Jamaica at a gathering of our people there. This followed a spaghetti supper sponsored by the Ladies’ Auxiliary.
In order to relieve its crowded auditorium, Hope Church has begun to seat a number of families in the basement of the church; this is done by turn and each week the names of those who are to sit downstairs the following Sunday are published in the bulletin. Plans are being made to begin building a new church soon.
The mission committee has decided that Rev. Lubbers should continue working in the Houston area. It was also decided to intensify the efforts in that field of labor, perhaps by means of a local radio broadcast and a printed “monthly community messenger.”
Miss Agatha Lubbers spoke to the Adams School Mothers Club on March 5, regarding the work in Houston and also showed some slides taken there.
Randolph’s bulletin contained the following quotation from a letter received in response to the last pamphlet sent out by the Reformed Action Society: “We receive the Reformed Witness pamphlet and like to read it. I think good literature should be sent out. So often in God’s work we hold back and don’t send it out which is a good way of doing and reaching some who maybe have never heard much about the Bible or go to a church where the sound doctrine or the whole truth is not brought….I hope you may be encouraged in your work…..
We have the address of a serviceman from South Holland: Pvt. Adrian Lenting US 55777978, Co. D. 9th Bn. 83rd Tng. Bde.; 3rd Plt. USATC Armor, Fort Knox, Ky
Neal Buiter and Kenneth Haak of Oaklawn have passed their physical examinations and expect to be inducted into the service in the near future.
New Infant Members
A son born to Mr. and Mrs. Dewey VanderNoord (South Holland)
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Gise G. VanBaren (South Holland)
A daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Vanden Top (Doon)
to Mr. and Mrs. Gerb De Jong (Hull) who celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on Jan. 21; to Mrs. J. W. Pastoor (First) who celebrated her 89th birthday on Jan. 14; and to Mr. Edward VanEenenaam (First) who was to celebrate his 80th birthday on Feb. 12.
First Church welcomed Mrs. Arie Nobel from Immanuel Chr. Ref. Church of Salt Lake City; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Velting and one baptized child transferred their membership to Southeast; membership papers of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Knott and three baptized children were received from Southeast by Hope.
News in Brief
Rev. B. Woudenberg has received the call from Redlands.
February 25 is the date of the Young People’s Mass Meeting to be held in Southeast Church; Seminarian Robert Decker plans to speak on the subject “Love Your Enemies”.
The Northwest Iowa School Society discussed location, curriculum and transportation at a meeting held Jan. 31 in Doon.
South Holland has changed its second service on Sunday from afternoon to evening.
Oaklawn has been busy getting its church library in good order before adding to it seventeen new books.
Confession of faith was made in Hudsonville on Jan. 26 by the following six young people: Betty Haveman, Joyce Kuiper, Larry Lubben, Marjorie Lubbers, Norma Schut and Joan VanderKooi. Beverly Kamphuis, Gary Moelker and Carol Petroelje confessed their faith in Hope Church on Feb. 2.
Music in our Churches
A Singspiration, sponsored by Beacon Lights, was enjoyed by those present at Southeast Church on Sunday, Feb. 2; Chuck Westra led the singing and special numbers were given by Don Knoper on his trumpet, accompanied by his daughter, Donna and Mrs. C. Lubbers and Lois Schipper, who played an organ and piano duet.
March 15 is the date set aside by the Hope Heralds for a program to be presented in Hope Church.
This gem from Randolph’s bulletin is worthwhile passing on to you in its entirety: “Are we a singing church? Scripture repeatedly speaks of the church which sings. The church sings particularly in its triumphs. Think of the songs of Moses; the song of Deborah; the song of the angels in announcing the birth of Christ; the song of Mary; of the saints in glory. Even in sorrow, the church sings because it knows that all things work together for its good. Ah, who has more right and greater reason to sing than we? Yet, there is so much to be desired in our singing. Do we sing from the heart—and with zeal and enthusiasm? Adults: sing with joyous exultation the praises of our God—even though it cannot be with perfect tune; parents, teach your children the need and the joy of singing; children, open your books and sing forth with loudness, clarity and great joy. Can God be pleased when we refuse to sing—or simply mumble a few words? The Lord rejoices in the songs of the saints which arise out of the regenerated heart in thanksgiving to God for all His benefits.”
Margaret put down the magazine she had been reading and sighed. She had been looking at the recipes; somehow, nothing appealed to her today. The tempting dishes seemed too complicated; the easy ones too dull.
It was just one of those days, she said to herself. In spite of all the work she had had to do that day, she had accomplished almost nothing. The ironing lay dampened in a plastic bag. The mending was piled on the sewing machine, untouched. The dishes were done, and the beds made, to be sure, but she would have had to be positively ill to neglect that daily routine. The morning had been punctuated by a few phone calls, none of them very important. She had sat down twice for a cup of coffee, and each time had paged rather aimlessly through a fashion magazine, stretching her coffee break a little. After lunch she had tried to nap, thinking she might wake up in a better mood, but she had not even been able to doze.
She had been troubled all day by a vague uneasiness. It had started at breakfast time. Jeff had been unusually quiet for a nine-year-old boy; a couple of times, in fact, he had not answered her when she had spoken to him. His mind seemed to be on something else, and she wondered what it was. Perhaps he was having trouble with his school work, or maybe he wasn’t getting along with some of his friends. She almost asked him; then she decided to wait. If it was important enough, he would come to her eventually and talk it over.
She had watched him pedal off on his bicycle and had gone to bathe the baby, dismissing Jeff from her mind for the time being. But occasionally throughout the day that feeling of uneasiness had come back to haunt her, and now it was there again. Probably this dark chilly weather had helped put her in a mood like this, Margaret thought to herself. The weather man had predicted that the present rain would change to snow; it would be the first snow of the year, and surely to be expected, for it was already mid-November.
She glanced at the clock. Jeff would be home any minute, and the baby was due to wake up. She stood up resolutely and went to the kitchen to get a dust cloth. She would at least dust the living room, so that it would look a bit neater if someone should come to the door. She whisked the cloth skillfully over the tables and turned towards the mantel. She paused a moment before dusting to admire her favorite vases on it. It was only two weeks before that she had bought them in Chicago, and she still enjoyed standing back to see how pretty they looked. She hoped this pair of vases would remain whole. So many of her pretty ceramics had become chipped or broken. The baby was just learning to walk, of course, and had little idea what he should not touch. Even Jeff was not too careful, and often brushed against a table, nearly upsetting her lamps. She had chided him for it, but he had shown little improvement; when she had bought the new vases she had spoken to him very sharply about them.
“You are to keep your hands off from these, Jeff,” she had said. “I value them very highly, and would feel just terrible if they were broken. Besides,” she had added, a little crossly, “I’d like to keep something in one piece around here.”
Now she walked up to the fireplace. And then she saw the white envelope, with “Mom” scrawled on the outside in Jeff’s writing. The uneasiness in her suddenly began to take form. She tore open the envelope, her hands trembling a little, and found the note inside. “Dear Mom,” it said. “In case you find the piece out of your vase before I come home, don’t worry, I went to find you another one. Love, Jeff.”
Margaret hurried to the telephone and dialed the number of Jeff’s school. She recognized his teacher’s voice. “Miss Arman? This is Jeff’s mother.”
“O, yes, Mrs. Marsden, is Jeff ill? We missed him today.”
“No – no, he isn’t ill. I mean—I’ll send a note with him tomorrow.” Without waiting for the teacher’s reply, Margaret put down the receiver. Hurriedly she woke the baby and dressed him, and slipped into her own coat. She scribbled a brief note of explanation to Jim, her husband, in case he should come home before she returned, then picked up the baby and ran out to the car.
Surely she would find him, she thought, as she started down the driveway. The few times he had gone shopping with her she had taken him downtown, so that must be where he went. She would go to the gift shops and ask whether a small boy had been there that day; after all, someone would remember.
But her heart was pounding with fear as she drove. He had been gone all day. What could he have been doing all that time? What if something had happened to him? She thought of a dozen possibilities. She called to mind how sharply she had spoken to him, warning him about the pair of vases, and she reproached herself bitterly. No wonder she had given him the impression that the vases were very important to her. And so they were, she admitted to herself, ruefully, far too important. She had treasured them far too highly. Jeff had sensed that she would be angry and unhappy because he had broken one.
In her fear her thoughts came tumbling one upon the other. Had she been putting too much emphasis on things for a long time? Materialism, she had read in one of those church papers, was the spirit of the age in which they were living, and Christians should not allow themselves to be engulfed by it. She had brushed the words aside at the time she had read them, but now they returned to plague her conscience. Is that why she had been so often moody, discontented? Did she have her heart set on too many pretty things? Remorsefully she admitted to herself that she had, and that this had led up to Jeff’s present predicament. Desperately she prayed, “Forgive me, Lord, and help me to find him.”
At the first two gift shops she received the same reply to her question. “Yes, there was a small boy in here this morning, looking for a certain vase, but I didn’t have what he wanted, and he left.” She inquired further in the department stores; she tried the florists. Some of them had seen Jeff that morning; others simply shook their heads sympathetically
Finally, on the far side of the shopping district she found a shop where Jeff had been seen around noon. Yes, he had found what he wanted, “that vase over there, but he didn’t have enough money to pay for it. He said he’d be back for it.”
Margaret asked if she could use the telephone and dialed her own number, hoping that Jeff would have returned. There was no answer. She turned to go, when the owner of the shop called after her, “You’d better get some help in finding that youngster, lady. This is no weather for you and the baby to be out in.” Margaret glanced out of the shop window. The rain had turned to a driving sleet that was freezing on the cars and pavement.
She looked at her watch: it was nearly six o’clock. Disconsolately, she went back to the car. Her arms ached from carrying Johnny and there was a growing fear within her that something terrible had happened to Jeff. She turned toward home, and in spite of the sleet her driving was almost automatic.
Then she saw him, his head bent slightly against the storm, pedaling slowly, as if he was very tired. She pulled up behind him, stopped the car and ran out. “Jeff—oh, Jeff,” was all she could say at first, as she hugged him joyfully. Then, “Come in the car, son, and let’s go home.”
“But my bike—“
“Never mind the bike; we’ll leave it at this gas station and pick it up tomorrow. Just get in. You’re all soaked and freezing cold.”
On the way home, Jeff said, “Mom, did you find my note? I mean—I thought when you dusted you might notice the vase had a chip out and so I thought I’d better explain. Johnny climbed up when I was supposed to be watching him, and when I grabbed it out of his hand, I knocked it against the corner of the mantel.”
“Oh, Jeff, never mind about the vase,” Margaret replied, “It doesn’t matter.”
“But, Mom, I know how much you liked it and everything, and I found one just like it, and I’ll save up my allowance and get it for you. I tried to find some odd job to do after I finally found the right vase, but everyone said I was too small, and should be in school. Then I sorta got lost, and had to ask someone the way home. But I’ll still get it for you.”
Margaret looked at the baby; he was sound asleep in his car seat. She stopped the car at the curb, and turned to her small son.
“Jeff,” she said, “I must have led you to think that the vase meant more to me than you did. That was wrong of me, and I’m sorry. ‘Set your affections on things above’ God tells us. Well, I guess I’ve been forgetting that for a long time, and needed a lesson. Now let’s go home.”
The subject of woman suffrage in the political world is not one that presents a problem to most of our people. Women were given the vote here in the United States by the 19th Amendment, and those of us who wish to make use of it are free to do so; those who do not, are free to refrain from it. The church today does not legislate about it. Woman suffrage in the church is becoming more and more of a live issue, however, one of which we do well to take cognizance, and upon which we should be informed.
It is the question of woman suffrage in the world with which we have mainly to do in this article, however, and although it is not a problem with which we deal as churches, yet some of our members still feel that women should not vote, even though the state has granted them the right to do so. Therefore, the subject merits discussion.
It is interesting to note how it came to be, historically, that only men voted for so many centuries. According to an authority on the development of the state, John Fikse, originally all issues were settled by tribal wars, and it was the men who did the fighting. Later, voting was probably adopted as a substitute for fighting, so that heads were counted instead of being broken, and it became a matter of numbers rather than an actual test of physical strength. Accordingly, it was the warriors who became voters. This would seem to indicate that the ban against woman suffrage was one which arose not for principle reasons but for practical ones, reasons which in the complex civilization of the present day are no longer valid.
I think that the idea that a woman should not vote stems basically from two misconceptions: the first is that women are inferior to men in intelligence and judgment; the second is that the Bible teaches us that women should keep silence and not usurp authority over the man, and this is mistakenly thought to prohibit women from taking part in the affairs of the state.
Suppose we take a closer look at these two ideas. As far as the former is concerned, that is a notion that is far from Biblical, but rather has its roots in Paganism. The Romans regarded a wife as a mere piece of property, destitute of legal rights. The Indians treated their wives as slaves. In the East Indies, women used to be burned on the funeral pyres of the husbands. Even in the Old Testament, there is a much higher regard for the rights of women, and in the New Testament, under Christianity, woman has been able to occupy the position assigned to her at creation, that of social equality with man. In the Gospel, the promises and rewards are the same for men and women, and Gal. 3:28 tells us that in Christ there is no distinction of male and female. Some of our Lord’s most faithful friends were women; women brought their children to Christ to be blessed; women stood over against the cross, were the first to visit the sepulchre, and the first to receive the revelation of the risen Lord. Women took an active part in the history of the early church also; they were present at the first meeting of the disciples after the ascension; they were among the first converts and were steadfast under persecution. Paul’s first convert in Europe was Lydia. Think of Dorcas, with her Christian charity, and Priscilla, who expounded the way of God to Apollos. Paul refers to Phoebe, Persis, and other women as fellow-helpers in the spread of the gospel. Women inferior to men in intelligence and judgment? The Bible does not know of it. And personally, I would rather see a Rebekah making decisions than an Isaac; and give me Abigail rather than the churlish Nabal.
True, Paul does not suffer a woman to teach, or to usurp authority over the man, but we cannot from this draw the conclusion that women may not vote. Nor may we say that Paul tells the women to keep silence and that therefore they may not vote in civil matters, for he adds, “in the churches.” I do not think that Scripture anywhere prohibits women from taking part in the affairs of the state.
But there are not only reasons why a woman may vote, but also some good reasons why she should vote. In a country in which both men and women have the franchise, not to vote is to give your husband only half a vote, whereas by voting the same way he does (as you probably will, if you take the issues seriously enough to discuss them with him) you give added weight to his vote. And if a widow or a single woman does not vote, she has no choice at all in the matters of the nation, matters which concern all of us as individuals, and often very really affect the church.
There is another very good reason why women should make use of their voting power. Sometimes the enmity of the world against the church manifests itself in specific attempts to overthrow one of the causes for which the church stands. Some years ago, for example, there was an effort made to destroy the Christian School movement. For a woman to refrain from voting in such an issue is, in reality, to lend her support to the wicked world in its fight against the church.
Let our women, therefore, exercise the privilege which has been given to them of voting in the state, not in any doubt lest they are usurping authority over the man, but as fellow Christians fighting on the same side, and witnessing insofar as is possible also in this respect that they are of the party of the living God.
Young people, did you know that it is almost Easter? Yes, that’s what I’m asking. That’s a stupid question, you say. Of course we know it’s almost Easter. Don’t we see the signs of it all around us? Does not almost every store window show something we should buy because Easter is coming? We see Easter made the reason for buying almost everything you can think of: hats, coats, shoes, gloves, candies; there are Easter bunnies, Easter chicks, Easter bonnets, complete Easter outfits. As soon as we open our morning paper we are reminded that Easter will soon be here. We read many advertisements centered around the idea that we are nearing Easter Sunday. We read of plans that are being made all over the country to somehow celebrate Easter. How could anyone in this country have his eyes and ears open and not know that Easter is coming?
Well, perhaps I should rephrase my question. Young people, do you know that the day on which we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord is almost here? That’s different, isn’t it? The world is full of devices to remind us that Easter is coming, but we find little to remind us of Resurrection Day. Yet, if we but look around us, in “My Father’s World,” we see much that tells us of the Resurrection. And listening to the language that God speaks to us in nature makes quite a difference in our celebration of Resurrection Day, which we call Easter. Our hearts become filled with a joy unspeakable as we contemplate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, a joy that finds expression in praise and thanksgiving to our dear God, Who hath raised Him from the dead, in singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. That constitutes a proper celebration of Easter.
In a broad sense, Easter is not merely the observance of one day, or of one season of the resurrection, and is full of pictures to remind us of it. Are we so busy that we fail to see them? Let us pause many times in the rush that living in the present day has become: pause, I say, to drink in the beauty with which God has surrounded us and meditate upon the resurrection of our Lord. That Christ is risen is strikingly pictured for us as we see nature awaken: the frozen streams and lakes again flow; the grass, trees, and plants come to life again, with a fresh, new green. The air is filled with the sweet incense of spring. The music of birds is everywhere. Everything that seemed dead has suddenly come to life. What a beautiful illustration of the resurrection, and yet, how often do we stop to think of it that way? Christ Himself uses a picture taken from spring in talking about His own coming death and resurrection when he says, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24. When we see the wheat coming up in the fields, are we reminded of these words? Does a song of praise burst from our lips because our Lord died on the cross for our sins, and was raised again the third day? God speaks to us in the language of spring and shows us a picture of the resurrection. May our response as children of God be a prayer of thanksgiving. Then we are beginning to celebrate Easter.
Of course the symbolism of spring, beautiful that it is, is not enough. We are not even able to read it perfectly. We must have the Word of God read in the Scriptures, and preached to us. So, as we read or hear the Easter story, although we have heard it countless times before, do not miss the wonder and the glory of that Resurrection morning. Rather, walk with the women, heavy of heart, to the sepulchre, as they go to do one last loving honor to the dead body of their Lord. Stand with them in amazement and fear as you see the angel sitting upon the great stone that had been in front of the tomb. Hear the words of the angel, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.” And when you finish, don’t thrust it into some far corner of your mind. Remember, this is vital! This has to do with our hope! For Christ is the first-fruits. Our own resurrection is sure because “He tore the bars away.” Christ was raised for our justification, so that His resurrection is the seal that we stand righteous before God, and we may look forward in hope to the day when He will give us a glorified body, and we shall live with Him in perfection forever. No wonder our hearts thrill with joy at the angel’s words, “He is risen!” No wonder we feel like celebrating Easter!
And we do, don’t we? Of course we do. For our rejoicing and our thanksgiving are as sure as our salvation itself. The same God who justifies us also leads us on in the way of sanctification, so that He places the song of praise upon our lips, and He causes the prayers of thanksgiving to arise from our hearts. And though many things distract us, so that, as in everything else, our very commemoration of Easter is shot through with sin, the principle is there, nonetheless, the joy is there, and the song.
In the early days of the church, Christians used to keep a night-long vigil on the Saturday night before Easter. A cock-crowing the stillness of the early morning was shattered by the joyful shout, “The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!” So let us celebrate Easter. May we be knit together even more closely as the body of Christ, and let heart answer to heart, “The Lord is risen indeed!”
Science tells us that temperature is an indication of the amount of energy which a body possesses. The warmer an object is, the more energy it has, because heat is energy. Looking at this object from a slightly different aspect, we may say that as it becomes warmer, all the molecules that go to make up this object begin to move faster, and to bombard one another harder.
What is our Christian temperature? Are we very warm, lukewarm or downright cold? Are we active, reluctant or lethargic?
We have just passed through a Lenten season, and it is a very fitting time for introspection. If we are active Christians, we have had a healthy reaction to this season. We have felt especially close to our God. We have stood amazed at the foot of the cross, and we have felt drawn to our Saviour by cords of love, as we realize the awfulness of His supreme sacrifice. This love of God, which God Himself kindles in our hearts, will find fruit in our lives. It will be evidenced in our devotions. We will constantly have need of approaching the throne of grace, and enjoying covenant fellowship with our God, from whom all blessings flow. We will love to read His Word, the revelation of Himself to us, and we will seek to be edified and strengthened in the faith by the reading of really Christian literature.
But perhaps we are only lukewarm. Perhaps we are reluctant Christians. Then we are half-hearted in our Christian activity. Prayer is an occasional matter, but more often we forget our need of God entirely, and we rely on ourselves. We hastily read a chapter of the Bible at the table, perhaps, but we do not really search the Scriptures. And as for seeking to gain spiritual wisdom and understanding by the study of the things pertaining to God’s kingdom, by reading Christian books and magazines—well, those things are a little too deep, and we prefer lighter reading. And we try to soothe our conscience by saying that we haven’t time for all these things. So we keep under those occasional pinpricks of conscience.
Or maybe we are cold. Maybe the past Lenten season, with all its beauty and richness of idea, did not even succeed in arousing us from our spiritual torpor. Maybe our Christianity is a coldly intellectual sort of thing. Perhaps we are so encased in the icy shell of the foolish and fleeting pleasures of the world that the light of the cross does not touch us. If this is the case with some of us, we pray that God will penetrate our hearts with His Spirit, and kindle anew the flame of His love in the hearts of His own.
In which category do you belong, young friend? Which description applies to you? Are you warm, lukewarm or cold? Ask yourself, what is your Christian temperature?
We hear much, nowadays, about the high cost of living. It is a phrase which is found on the lips of nearly everyone at some time or other. Housewives find it increasingly difficult to “make ends meet” on their old budgets, and must from time to time widen their budgets to buy the necessary food and clothing for their families, as prices continue to skyrocket. The cost of necessities and luxuries alike keep spiraling upward.
Wages, however, are also at an all-time high, and so we find very little hardship worked by this high cost of living. The number of poverty-stricken people in our churches is low today. In general, these are prosperous times. Everyone is working: there is very little want.
And what is the result for the needs of God’s kingdom? Are they met? On the contrary, and shame on us that the subject must even be broached! It seems that when God’s people are prospered they begin looking around at the things in the world that they would like to possess. Like the rich man of the parable who decided to build bigger barns so that he could hold on to everything his field produced, they begin looking for places to invest their money, so that they can save it for themselves. And so, when the pay envelope is opened, they dole themselves various amounts: so much for food, rent, clothing, miscellaneous items—and see! We can pay off a good deal toward that house this month. And the purse-strings are tightened before so much as a thought is given to the church. It receives what is left; and, worse yet, often with the excuse that—well, we aren’t in favor of all these things that cost the church so much money anyhow.
You say, perhaps, “But what does this all have to do with our youth? How does it affect me?” And I answer just this: you can begin now to give generously, as you are able. You can learn the meaning of giving, and the folly of laying up treasures here below. Then, when you are ready to take a more responsible position in the church and the world, giving will have become just as much a part of you as eating and drinking. And you will certainly experience the blessedness of God’s love, for “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.”
“He ever gives in gracious ways,
Whose life true charity displays.”
The grim years of the depression are a thing of the past. Prosperity, which seemed to linger around the corner for so long, is now with us. Business is booming: everyone has a job. The dark shadow of the war years is gradually fading, and the brighter lights of a wealthier, gayer, madder America are becoming ever more intense. Here in America, it would seem that freedom from want is the most prominent of the four. There is not only plenty of money, but plenty of food to buy with it.
In a few weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. We shall sit before our over-loaded tables and fill our stomachs to capacity, knowing that there is more—always more; that we need not fear the specter of hunger. Our hearts will be light and gay, as we gather with our loved ones around the festive table.
It is hard to imagine that, elsewhere, people are starving; we cannot even picture anything like that, as we live in the midst of our abundance. Yet, it is true, and we know it well. In Europe there is desolation and want. There the people know what it is to be really hungry. The simple things of life are not taken for granted, but are appreciated perhaps more than we appreciate our luxuries. Their tables are not over-loaded, but they have known days when they were even emptier. Even now, while we have so much, they know only hardship and privation.
Do you think our brethren across the sea are not thankful? Do you think for a moment that they have become stubborn and rebellious because of their lot? Do you imagine that they would like to take the advice of Job’s wife “Curse God, and die,” because of the burden that is placed upon them? On the contrary, the letters which many of us receive, indicate a very close bond of unity exists among the people of God. There is a spirit of sharing, of selflessness there, which we may well imitate.
What should this teach us? The obvious thing, of course, is that there is much we can and should do to alleviate the want of our brethren in Europe. We must not imagine that need is past, because we know that it is not.
But we can derive a far deeper lesson from a comparison of this nature. We must learn to give thanks always, for all things. That is true thankfulness. We must learn that the possession of worldly goods is not the yardstick with which to measure the favor of God. Then we shall sit down at our full tables and give thanks, to be sure; but when less prosperous days come, when we too shall have to endure privation, fear and even persecution, then also we shall lift up our hearts in humble thanksgiving to Him Who doeth all things well.
To many of you, the first part of September was spent in registering for another year of school. In most communities, the schools have thrown open their doors, in order that youth may again take up the pursuit of learning.
Most of us have a goal in mind when we study. We have chosen a vocation, and it is to that end that we bend our efforts in a greater or lesser degree. Now when we are in the grammar school, with few exceptions, we study rather aimlessly. We go to school because our parents send us there: it is not very often that we have decided what our life’s work is to be by the time we are thirteen or fourteen years old. But when we come to our senior year in high school, the problem of finding our place in society looms greater. Either we must find work, or we must go on to college. If we decide upon the latter, there is still the question of what specific field we are to study.
I should like to direct your attention to a very worthy field of study, and before you brush it aside as something for which you are not fit, it is your duty to give this calling due consideration. Here in Grand Rapids there is a movement which is daily gathering more support. We are trying to build an institution where children may be educated according to the same principles which they receive in church, catechism and, we trust, in the home. To be sure, this cause needs financial aid, but more perplexing and urgent is the need for teachers. We need teachers who are willing to devote, not just a year or two, but their whole life to the cause of Protestant Reformed education. And where are we to look for them? Surely there must be nine or ten of our young people to whom the cause of Protestant Reformed education is so dear that they are willing to devote their lives to it.
Oh, I know, teaching has its drawbacks. The common complaint of teachers is that they are underpaid. And this is certainly true. A teacher invests four years of college in training for his profession and often receives a lower salary than an unskilled laborer. Surely the laborer is worthy of his hire! We cannot expect a teacher to work for nothing while the salaries in most other professions are high. Yet, on the other hand, if we are to pay our teachers decent salaries we need good financial backing for our school. Therefore the problem of where to find teachers seems to be partly a financial one. And such a problem we can help solve. It is not up to our parents alone to support the school. When we reach the age of seventeen or eighteen years, and are at all able, we must back a cause as worthy as this with our gifts. We must learn what it means to give—to give as our parents gave when our churches had their beginning.
But money alone will not give us teachers. Entering a profession such as this means the giving up of cherished ambitions, perhaps. You may have other plans, and this does not at all fit in with them. Consider, then, the challenge. You have an opportunity to help build up our own school. You have the opportunity to help preserve true and pure that which you yourself have been taught. Do not brush away the idea as if it is for someone else. Stop and think! Are you called to be a teacher—not only equipped, but called?
Consider, too, the reward: hearing the words of the blessed Master, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
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