Matt 15:8, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Do we "talk a good game" when it comes to our faith, or are we just giving "lip service" to Jesus? Jesus doesn't just want us to talk the talk, he wants us to walk the walk. Is it important for us to serve on committees at our church? Is it important for us to do fund raisers that help the church? Is it important for us to attend that small group, or go to church regularly, or give to the church, or be a "good person ", or read our bible. The answer to all of those questions is an obvious yes. Any "good Christian" knows that. However, where are our hearts? Are they far from Jesus? When I look back at some of the "good things" I've done in my life, my heart was surprisingly far from Jesus.
Yes, I helped with that fund raiser, but it was only so I could have control over the money we raised so that it didn't go to things I didn't want it to, or to programs I didn't deem worthy, or to groups not deserving. That money was never mine to begin with, it was meant to do God's work, not mine. Yes, I thought my intentions were worthy and God centered, but I don't remember Jesus being exclusionary in service to His Father. What about when churches refuse to change because that's the way they've always done it and that's what makes them most comfortable?
When Jesus gave the great commission to go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, He didn't say, but you can exclude those that don't look like you, or think like you, or worship like you, or don't "fit in". And He didn't say, go make disciples of those that do what you want to do and what makes you most comfortable. In all that we do, in all that we say, is it for our own self satisfaction and to make us feel better about ourselves and to make us comfortable, or is it in service to Christ?
We as a church can't say we are accepting of all, but then do things that are the exact opposite. And I don't just mean with those new to our church, I mean with those we've been worshiping with and serving with together for years. What are our intentions when we do or say specific things in the church? Is it for the betterment of all, is it in love, is it in true, heartfelt service? Or is it just lip service? It looks good on the outside, but on the inside it's spiteful, or hurtful, or gossip filled, or worse yet, just plain mean. Where are our hearts? Jesus doesn't just want us for an hour or so on Sunday mornings, or to do His Father's work because "we're supposed to". He wants all of us all the time and especially our hearts. Are our hearts in it?
We can't honor Him with our lips, when our hearts are far from Him. Jesus not only wants our hearts, He knows what's in our hearts as well. We can hide our true intentions from the world, but Jesus knows what's inside. I was recently asked the following question. What is our greatest asset as a church? My answer was, our love of Christ. It was then followed by this question. What is our biggest fault? My answer was, remembering our love of Christ.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love each other. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
We left our church family at the end of March, 1942, looking forward to Easter and warm spring weather. Easter was on April 5th in 1942, over a week earlier than it is this year. On Palm Sunday, the last Sunday in March, our church had joined the First Christian, First Baptist and Trinity Lutheran for a community 4 PM Vesper Service, with the four choirs uniting to present a Lenten Cantata, “The Crucifixion”. The event was held at our church. The above information was provided by the microfilm archives of The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper for many years. It is available for anyone to see at the Girard Free Library, and I often use it to supplement our own church archives.
As I had reported in the Glances of January, February and March 1942, the news of the War was all bad, with the Germans and Japanese apparently conquering at will in Europe and the Pacific. Now, on April 1, 1042, a Wednesday evening, our Congressman, Michael Kirwan, spoke at a dinner meeting of the Girard Businessmen’s Association at the Mahoning Country Club. He predicted that the bad news from the war front would at least continue for six months. That had to be a sobering assessment for those Girard families who already had sons who were drafted and serving.
Then came Easter Sunday, on the fifth. We will assume that Rev. Maly did get those special Easter Bulletins as the Official Board had requested, and that the Sunday Worship was beautiful and moving as always, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
On Wednesday evening, the 8th, the Friendship Class held their monthly meeting at the church. Mr and Mrs Wendell Thomas were in charge of the dinner. Rev. Walker Schutz, a Missionary in Africa, home on furlough, was the speaker.
I’m sure that the Official Board of our church met in April. However, that page is missing from our archives. The expenses for the month, however, are available. We can see that they collected a total of $624.93 from the four Sunday collections. The monthly expenditures were $491.86. The two largest expenditures were $91 to Rev. Maly, his salary for the first and second half of the month of April. This reinforces a truth known to anyone who has served on the Finance Committee, or the Staff Parish Relations Committee: The road to wealth does not run through service as a Methodist Minister.
The war news continued bad during the month of April, as Congressman Kirwan predicted it would. In the Philippines, the Bataan Peninsula fell, and the Bataan Death March began, a horror for our captured men that would only become fully known much later. Several extermination camps were opened by the Germans in Poland. Again we wouldn’t find out about them until near the end of the war. And, the City of Exeter in England was bombed by the Germans.
There was one piece of very good news in April. On April 18th, a small force of sixteen B-25 Mitchell Bombers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, bombed Tokyo. The planes took off from the USS Hornet, one of our aircraft carriers. However, because the bombers were too large to land back on the carrier, they were to proceed to China, where most of them landed (or crashed) safely and their crews were able to get back to US forces. One landed in Vladivostok, Russia. The crewmen were safe but held for a year by the Russians. One plane crashed into the Pacific with the loss of one crewman; the other eight were captured by the Japanese, with three being executed by them, the other five surviving the war in captivity. The raid was, against all odds, a success. However, it showed that our bombers could never reach Japan unless we had a closer takeoff and landing point, something that would not be achieved until years later after the battle of Iwo Jima.
One last bit of news from the home front in April, the News headline of the April 17th edition: “Bitten by Dog. Joan Barton, 11, dies of rabies.”
On that sad reminder of the “good old days”, we will leave our church family – seventy-five years ago – April 1942.
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