Tuesday, April 05, 2016


(the following post was written late at night and is more personal than most. Fair warning.)

Today was a big day for our church. A historic section of the church building was torn down in spectacular fashion by some heavy equipment. More on this later. . .

One of the ministries to children at our church is "Bible Story Time." This is based on the "release time" state law that allows elementary children (with parental permission) to be dismissed from class in order to participate in "religious instruction." In our case, a group of walkers goes over to the elementary school up the street, collects nearly 100 children, and escorts them to the church,where they sing and hear a Bible lesson. Then they are walked back to school.

We've been doing this for 60 plus years!

Today at Bible Story Time, our story teller did Joshua 4. If you are familiar with the Bible, chapter 3 is where Joshua, the new, dynamic leader of the next generation of Israelites, leads the people across the Jordan River, into the Promised Land.  It had to have been a time of mixed emotions. The previous generation, along with their leader Moses, was dead. With anticipation and excitement and courage and maybe a little apprehension and fear, the children of Israel were ready to take the land. Joshua sticks his big toe in the river, the river miraculously stops flowing, and the people march across while the priests hold the Ark of the Covenant in the middle. And then things get interesting. . .
As chapter 4 begins and before the priests can move, Joshua says, "One more thing: Each tribe needs to go back and get a river rock." So while the priests are standing there, holding this ark (I can imagine what's going on in their minds!), a representative from each tribe goes back to the middle of the dried up Jordan, picks a big rock, and carries it back to shore. They take these rocks and build an memorial to the Lord, so that succeeding generations will be taught how God helped the Israelites get across the river).

The river rocks would serve as a reminder to the future generations about God's faithfulness to the previous ones. 

Now about our building demo. . .

It only took two hours for the old office wing to be knocked down. The original church building was built in 1906 and some time in the next 35 years, the office wing was added (we're still researching the date). We will be building a new sanctuary in the coming months (a project called ARISE. . . and how God brought all this about is a story for another time!), which meant the old office wing had to be come down. It's exciting, but for some, it's also sobering and sad and bittersweet. The previous generations had built and faithfully served in this section of the building. A lot of memories rose to the surface, even as sections of roof, timber, and rock crashed to the ground. Two hours and this historic wing lay in a heap of rubble. The rest of the day was spent hauling the debris away.

And then, things get interesting again. . .

With the empty basement staring up like a drained swimming pool, our pastor noticed that he could see portions of the old foundation for the church building. And what was the main material in that foundation?

River rocks!

I speak to my dear friends and church family at EPCBC, but also to anyone who might be struggling with crossing the Jordan, fearing the previous generations might be left behind:  Don't forget the river rocks!  The river rocks aren't there to stop the new generation from moving ahead, but to provide a base upon which to march forward. We honor those who have gone before and we will look at the river rocks with fond memories of God's faithfulness to us and to our local church. And we will go forward. Just like the new generation of God's children. Just like Bible Story Time for over half a century. And just like EPCBC.