THE ECSTASY OF LIFE: The following was originally given as a speech during a singspiration in memorial to Ronald Yonkers. Because of the emotions which all of us felt upon that occasion, the speech is printed just as it was given.
Note: This reading was written before Ron’s sudden passing to glory this week. I at first wished to discard the speech and write another, but upon reflection, I decided to use it as written, for who knows more about the ecstasy of life right now than Ron?
A baby’s hand: More beautiful than the roses’ bud opening to the dawn. A baby’s hand: The Church of God.
A child is born, a covenant child and through his hands moves the Church.
A mystery is this child, with his flawless body, with his matchless heart, a mystery. In his mind may be the brilliance of a Hoeksema, the wisdom of a Calvin, the insight of a Luther. In his hands may be the artistry of a Rembrandt, the vision of a Greco, the skill of a Rubenstein.
In his hands may be the skills of a carpenter, the comprehension of a farmer, the talent of a salesman. In his mind may be the artistry of a gardener, the perseverance of a janitor, the ability of a plumber.
A mystery, this child. But one thing he is: He is the Church.
For some crisis yet unthought, he may have been created. For unknown terrors, for unimagined glories, he is the Church.
Be he brilliant leader, be he common pillar, he is the Church of tomorrow.
Yet, what is the force that moves him? What sustains him in life and makes him scoff at death? What is his ecstasy of life?
There was a time in the early mists of history that man was a perfection. He knew no sin. Then woman was tempted by a serpent. Woman, tempted, fell. Man, tempted, Humanity fell.
For this, the mothers of the Church (and of the world, too) travail in their birthing. For this—and let no man deceive you!—a soul is in sin at conception. For this the Son of God went through the agonies of deepest Hell on the accursed tree of the cross.
For this, this Church of God, this new life is sin. Each day of his life will be blotted with the stain of sin. There can never be perfection in anything he does. Where is his ecstasy of life?
This beautiful body, this flawless creation, will become scarred. It will sicken. The smooth skin will become spotted and wrinkled. The lovely eyes will dim; the tender hands will err and tremble. And he will die. His body will moulder and corrupt in the grave until it is dust. Where is his ecstasy of life?
But, wait, the Church was born in this child—a soul was created! A soul was created and as the child uttered his first cry, he was shadowed, not by sin alone, but by the cross! For every sin committed there was already atonement; for the sin of his being—his soul-sin, there was atonement.
Through his hands moves the Church. He is the Church and he is marching to glory!
Though his body will weaken and crumble, though he is very really mortal, still he is eternal. At this conception, the temporal was touched by the heavenly, the temporary by the eternal and never can he walk except toward glory. He is the Church of God, the diadem of Christ. He is marching to heaven.
For this is the ecstasy of life: That in death more than birth, that in faith more than hope, that in reality more than dream, he is eternal. And, yes, that it is not mere eternity only, but glory.
This is the ecstasy of life: That though we walk in darkness, we have light: though we are imperfect, yet we have perfection: though we are temporal, yet we have eternity.
A child is born, a covenant child, and in his hands he holds the Church.
His is the ecstasy of life—yours is the ecstasy of life. You are the Church of God, and sinful you are. But you are marching—marching to glory. In death more than in life, this is your ecstasy of life.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 5 August 1969