Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
August 2, 1998
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
|God's unfaltering love
People's meaningless pursuits
|247: O Morning Star, How
Fair and Bright
397: I Need Thee Every Hour
700: Abide with Me
|The wise consider God's great love
This life is temporary
|103: Immortal, Invisible,
God Only Wise
348: Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling
|Luke 12:13-21||Fullness of life is not measured by possessions||363: And Can It Be that I
373: Nothing Between
|Colossians 3:1-11||Christ is all!||362: Nothing but the
469: Jesus Is All the World to Me
Words and music by Will L. Thompson
Tune Name: ELIZABETH
The lectionary scriptures for this week carry a common thread that contrasts the perfect and eternal nature of God with the flawed and temporal nature of humanity. An interesting story of the founding of a library illustrates a similar contrast.
The time was late in the 19th century. The town was East Liverpool, Ohio, a community on the Ohio River less than ten miles from the Pennsylvania state line. The huge steel mills and factories of Pittsburg lay several miles downstream, built by (or perhaps for) steel barons and other captains of industry. But this town of East Liverpool had a reputation and a character of its own. The lands at this bend of the Ohio River were full of clay, and East Liverpool was the "Pottery Capital of the World." Song writer Will Thompson (1847-1909) had a music store here.
The pottery industry of East Liverpool grew fast. Affluence grew, and it wasn't long before people started efforts to establish symbols of a "cultured society." How about a library? Will Thompson had a room in his music store which he opened as a reading room, refusing to accept any rent. To fund the project, though, a group of ambitious businessmen took over the project and began charging dues. These people asserted their own individual preferences concerning the management of the reading room, until the library project fell apart after only half a year.
Undaunted, the community continued to pursue the library idea, and eight years later a new library was established by renting a room from Thompson to hold a collection of some 2,500 books. The effort didn't stop here, though. There were ongoing questions about facilities and funding until several years later when the town established a public fund and obtained a grant from the steel mogul Andrew Carnegie. A new building was erected, and Will Thompson himself was made the first president of the library.
A society's disjointed, unfocused efforts will often lead to failure, just as it did with the first attempt to set up a library in East Liverpool. There is a solution for this problem, though. What is the solution? It is finding the right, singular focus, and making a real commitment to it. For the "library society" in East Liverpool, the solution involved focusing on the establishment of a public library and committing real funds to support it.
God's people encountered the same failures in both Old and New Testament times. They lost focus, lacked commitment, and separated themselves from God. We still do the same thing today, and there is still a solution to the problem. The Psalmist found it. So did the "teacher" in Ecclesiastes. So did the epistle writer in Colossians. And we can find it, too. Will Thompson put the answer into words in this week's featured hymn, "Jesus Is All the World To Me." If Christ is all the world to us, if Christ is the focal point of our lives, if our commitment is to Christ, then the ministry in our lives is destined to succeed.
Hallelujah! Christ is all!
God bless you--
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|