Friday, September 19, 2014

Eternal Father, strong to save...

While serving during the Vietnam War at the Naval Communications Command Headquarters in Washington, I sometimes attended "Protestant Divine Worship" in the Navy Chapel on base. At the end of each service, we always sang the Navy Hymn, with our voices and our hearts. A link at the end of this message will let your see and hear this beloved hymn.

One Sunday the pastor told of two retired sailors living as neighbors on the rocky coast of Maine. From their homes, they could see sailing ships in trouble on the ocean during storms. Eventually they decided to help. They built a rustic shack with a simple wood stove. It overlooked the water, and they used it for a rescue station. When a ship was in trouble, they'd row out and rescue the passengers, and bring them to the shack to warm up by the stove.

Some of the folks they saved also lived along the coast, and were so grateful to these men that they joined them to form a larger rescue team. They expanded the shack, installed plumbing and electricity. Over the next few years, dozens more victims who might have drowned were saved by this team, which now had five rowboats. Some of these also joined the team, and the station expanded further. Now it had wall-to-wall carpet, and sofas, and a TV. Those who had been saved spent hours at the station, enjoying each other's company. One stormy night a ship was in trouble off the coast. The team went into action and saved the passengers, bringing them to the station, but some team members objected when the ragged, dirty passengers from the ship dripped water on the new carpet, and ate the food, and left the bathroom a mess.

"But rescuing people is the reason we're here," said the two founding members. Others disagreed. The station was also their club, and they enjoyed each other's company. The founders were told if they wanted to rescue "just anybody" they'd need to build another station down the coast.

So they did. The little shack with a stove provided warmth to all the folks they saved. Some of the folks who'd been saved wanted to join the rescuers and improve the shack. You can see where this is going. Eventually, there were six beautiful seaside clubhouses along the coast, but nobody was watching for sinking ships.

"Those are our churches," said the Pastor. "Each one was started to save souls, but what are we doing today? Have we forgotten our purpose? Think about this, as we rise to sing the Navy Hymn." (click blue link below)

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