I have been the lead pastor of SDC for over eighteen years, and one of the downsides to being a long-term pastor is that you end up doing a lot of funerals. I have done over sixty in my years here at the church and have almost witnessed a generation of the church pass away. Yesterday I officiated the homegoing of one of our oldest members here at the church. As I reflected on that morning, I began to think of how we are losing a generation of men and women who understood what it means to go through hard times and how to come out of them tougher and more determined than ever before.
You see, the generation that we are losing and have lost were people that went through the Great Depression as children. Some of them were old enough to go off to war in WWII. Others watched as their fathers, brothers, and other families went to war. They came through the Vietnam war and faced many hardships along the way. Most of them learned to live without having much, but they were happy, content, and even happy with what they had. They grew up in a country that taught the bible in school and where most people went to church on Sunday and even those that did not respect the church. They understood what it meant to work hard, provide for your family, and live up to your responsibilities. A generation that did not talk about their feelings a lot, but they showed their love through action, and when they did say something, they meant what they said. They raised their children to sit up straight, listen, and not talk when the adults talked because they wanted them to learn respect. A generation that taught things like, “it is better to be an hour early than five minutes late”, and “it is better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit the mark.” They were faithful and committed to their family and many of them to God and His church.
We are losing a generation that shaped our nation and held the line when things got tough. A generation that did not have to have a lot of things to be happy but learned that true happiness comes from living a life of peace, joy, and love. We are losing a generation that gave their all and expected nothing in return. A generation that served in the church was faithful to church and always made sure that the bills were paid, even if that meant selling chicken dinners to raise money. A generation that knew what it was like to have all-night prayer meetings, revivals that lasted for weeks, and church services that had no clock. Men and Women went door to door, inviting others to church, and worked as Sunday School teachers, ushers, and song in the choir. They did not have nurseries for the kids, but they kept them sitting beside them and taught them must behave in church and listen. A generation that raised their children on the importance of attending the house of God and respecting the man of God. A generation that called everyone brother and sister because they were truly connected like family.
We are losing a generation of faithful, committed men and women, and someone must come along and stand in the gap. We cannot allow what they have built to become nothing more than a monument of the past, but we must continue to press forward and live by the example that we have been given. Yes, we can use the latest technology and sing the newest songs, but we must keep the committed heart and the faithful, loyal spirit of those who have gone before us. We must continue striving to be the best we can be and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in what we do in the church. We cannot allow them to die in vain and allow the building of the House of God to stop because it is not convenient for our lives anymore. The truth is the work of the Kingdom is never convenient to live in this world, and it has never been, but the faithful do it anyway and take joy in doing so. May we as a church rise in this season and let it be known that we are not dead and have learned from those that have gone before us, and we will continue their work.
I make a promise to people like George Comston that invite people to church and worked so hard to make the church what it was. To people like Chet and Joy Ellis, who worked on the church and kept it up during the lean times. People like Alma Dobb and Joan Keeton, who taught Sunday School for many years, believed it was their calling from God and worked to build that class. To those like Ronnie Veal, who volunteered and was willing to do anything the church needed him to do, he was just happy to help. To pastored like John Jacks and Charlie Bolt, that pastored struggling churches and worked secular jobs and yet still preached the gospel with passion and took the time to pour into a young minister. To all those that have gone on before me, I promise to continue to build God’s kingdom until I, too, take my last breath and joy you in that city whose maker is not man.