What is on Your Corner?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dear Linwoodites,

A bank and a drug store.

Things catch my attention – everyday, ordinary things.  I suspect that this is an occupational hazard.  For 40+ years I have been on the lookout for sermon illustrations.

Monday I was stopped by a traffic light at the crossroads of Detroit Road and Route 83 in Avon.  I found myself looking from one corner to the other.  I then began to ponder what I saw.

When Jan and I moved to Lorain County 13 years ago, the towns of Avon and North Ridgeville were “quaint” – a mixture of rural and village.  Over the last decade they have joined the ranks of suburbia.

Detroit Road and Route 83 are probably considered the center of Avon.  13 years ago there was an old cemetery on one corner, a really sad looking used car lot on another, and two empty lots on the remaining ones.  Now what is there?  The cemetery has not moved.  They rarely do!  There is a little shopping center on one corner.  And the “anchors” for this intersection are a bank and a drug store.

How do you know what a society really values?  We could look to the Bible and say “justice, mercy, kindness, and humility” (see Micah 6:8).  We could look to our history and the documents that form the foundation of this nation and say “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  We could look to our collective wisdom and say “The Golden Rule and ‘God helps those who help themselves’ “(one of which is Biblical and one is not!).

I believe that what we really value – at least in suburbia – is clearly proclaimed by what now stands at the corner of Detroit Road and Route 83.  A bank and a drug store – wealth and health.

I wonder – how many corners in suburbia are graced with the same combination?  When it comes down to it, how much of our concern, our time, and our efforts are focused on our wealth and our health?  It doesn’t make any difference if we have an abundance or a lack of either or both – they consume us.

Don’t misunderstand.  Our physical possessions (and our wealth) as well as our physical bodies are precious gifts from God to be cared for, utilized and managed well.  These are not unimportant.  And they certainly are not evil in themselves.  But they are not meant to consume us!  “Is not life more than food, and the body ore than clothing?” Jesus asks in the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 6:25, “But strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

It used to be that the church was the prominent structure in any city, town, or village in this nation.  I am well aware that a tall white church steeple is no guarantee that faith is practiced within sight of it.  But it was a declaration of what the people valued and were willing to invest their resources in to construct.

The Christian life is a full, complex, deep life.  It is meant to embrace and celebrate a wide range of all that God has fashioned in this world and entrusted to us.  Yet there is one thing – and only one thing – that is supreme, the Lord and His Kingdom. If something else tries to take His place, we are in big trouble!  If He truly is first, everything else can find its proper place.

Blessings on each of you,
Hu Auburn
Linwood Park Pastor

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