NATIONAL PARK CHURCH blog
Old things have a special place in my heart. I have a fondness for old photographs, old weathered wood, old antique jewelry, old… Well, you get the picture. Why the fascination with old things? I like to think of them as relics, not just of bygone days, but of the lives each piece touched.
My parents handed down some old things to me. I had my maternal great grandfather's gun, which I've now passed along to my oldest son. I have Bibles that belonged to both sets of grandparents. I have a large portrait of my great uncle; my paternal grandpa's brother who became a doctor. He drowned trying to cross a swollen creek en route to tend a patient. These are only a few of the old pieces I have. Each one is like a living piece of history…my family history.
This morning as I was having my coffee, I looked at some interesting photos on my Facebook timeline. They were photos of an abandoned castle in the forest in Belgium. Although abandoned, the rooms still included furniture and fixtures. Such as a small library with shelves full of books and stacks of books on the floor, some strewn haphazardly across the rug. There were toys in the hallway and at the top of the staircase. Several photos could have been from an attic or storage room. But what struck me most was that, as I looked at the photos, I could almost smell the mustiness of the rooms; the fabric of the upholstered furniture, the draperies, and the bed covers. Some of the rooms looked as if they could have been abandoned only yesterday…some for decades. Some appeared in good shape. Others showed decay and neglect. But, oh, the musty smell seemed so real!
I wonder. In our spiritual lives, do we ever smell musty? Does our walk with God sometimes bear the musty smell of decay and neglect?
The scriptures tell us that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were a sweet-smelling savor to God. 'And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man..." ' Genesis 8: 21
Jesus Christ was our sacrifice…the perfect Lamb of God, without blemish, offered in our place. 'And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.' Ephesians 5: 2
Through our lives, presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12: 1), we offer up a pleasing fragrance to God. 'But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.' 2 Corinthians 2: 14
'For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,' 2 Corinthians 2: 15
When I was a little girl, my daddy never wore a suit unless doing so was necessary for a special occasion. I can remember my mother taking his seldom worn suit out of the clothes bag and hanging it on the front porch to air. The fresh air and sunshine were necessary to rid the suit of the musty smell of many days in the closet, and, hopefully, of mothballs.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3: 27
Can others see Christ in us? Is it evident to those around us that we are clothed in Christ? Or have we allowed the things of the world to manifest themselves in our lives so clearly that His likeness is no longer visible? Do our lives still hold 'the fragrance of the knowledge of Him?' Or do our lives instead hold a musty smell; empty of the things which bear witness to an active relationship with Him? Do we cling to the Savior as we did when first we clothed ourselves in Him? Or do we openly display the things of the world; striving only to reflect His image on special occasions?
It is my prayer that our lives always bear the fragrance of the knowledge of our Lord; that we always bear witness to Him. I pray that we never abandon our walk with the Savior. I pray that our hearts are always a warm and welcome abode for Him…never musty from emptiness and being closed to His presence. Instead, let us keep our hearts open to the freshness and vitality of His love. As each of our old treasures from the past are relics of years gone by, may our lives be reflections of the abiding love and likeness of He Who never leaves or forsakes, but is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Marva Jo Hardage
For the remainder of the summer, National Park Church will be participating in a sermon series entitled Keep Christianity Weird. The idea of this title came from the city mottos of Austin, Texas and Asheville, North Carolina – Keep Austin Weird and Keep Asheville Weird. Citizens of both cities proudly proclaim and adopt this slogan, because the essence of their cities is found in their respective weirdness. They fear that their cities will become like any other cookie-cutter city, which would mean that the uniqueness of their cities would be lost, if they do not intentionally insist on maintaining the customs that make them abnormal. The same danger threatens Christianity when it loses the strangeness of its message – the peculiar story of a crucified God. If we, as the church, have grown comfortable with this narrative and depiction of God and being his followers, then we have likely sanitized the radical gospel of Jesus. Jurgen Moltmann suggests, in his book The Crucified God, that “Christians who do not have the feeling that they must flee the crucified Christ have probably not yet understood him in a sufficiently radical way.” At the same time, the cross is the event that is intended to shape the lives of followers of Jesus. Our hope is that all will feel welcome to come and learn why adjectives such as foolish, strange, and weird are embraced by Christ’s disciples as fitting and profound descriptions of Christianity.
Adult Sunday Morning Class: This summer we are having a combined adult class which will meet in the Auditorium. We will be journeying through the book of Philippians. Our time together will allow us to explore specific ways that the church can more faithfully orient itself around the self-sacrificial example of Jesus Christ.
Camp Create hosted at National Park Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas has reached max capacity for our 2018 camp, The Greatest.
We look forward to meeting our performers and are so excited about what you will learn and seeing you create!
The theme this year at Camp Create at National Park Church in Hot Spring is: "The Greatest" drawing elements from the film, The Greatest Showman.
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."
'This is not what I'd planned on!'