Pastor’s Column in the April Newsletter

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Greetings in the Name of the One Who Is, the One Who Was, and the One Who Is to Come!

Bill Bryson wrote a fascinating book called The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America. One chapter in the book describes his visit to the home of Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri. Bryson paid his two dollars to walk around the “trim, white-washed house with green shutters… set incongruously in the middle of downtown.” Bryson found himself disappointed and expressed his disillusionment like this:

“It purported to be a faithful reproduction of the original interiors, but there were wires and water sprinklers clumsily evident in every room. I also very much doubt that young Samuel Clemens’ bedroom had Armstrong vinyl on the floor or that his sister’s bedroom had a plywood partition in it.”

He said that the house, which is owned by the city of Hannibal, attracts some 135,000 visitors each year. But Bryson was disappointed that he was not able to actually go inside the house. “You look through the windows,” he says. “At each window there is a recorded message telling about each room.”

As he proceeded from window to window, he met another tourist who seemed to know a lot about the house. Bryson asked him: “What do you think of it?” The friendly stranger replied:

“Oh, I think it’s great. I always come here when I’m in Hannibal… two or three times a year. Sometimes I go out of my way to come here.”

Bill Bryson was fascinated, “Really?” he replied. “O yes,” the man said. “I must have been here twenty or thirty times by now. This is a real shrine you know.”

As the two of them continued walking and touring together, Bill Bryson said to the man:

“You must be a real fan and follower of Mark Twain. Would you say the house is just like Mark Twain described it in his books?”

“O, I don’t know,” said the tourist… “wouldn’t have the foggiest notion. I’ve never read any of his books!”

Visiting the shrine, but ignoring the books. Unfortunately, this is often a metaphor for what happens for many Christians … we visit the shrine of the open tomb, but do not allow ourselves to experience the new life it affords.

We have spent the spring of this year reacquainting ourselves with God’s story in scripture and noting how we find ourselves in that story. Earlier we paid attention to developing God’s momentum for each of our lives. In the coming months I pray that you will find yourself living in a fresh way within God’s great unfolding story, a story that turned in our favor forever when God raised Jesus from the grave on third day!

Grace and Peace, Allen