I got a view of the Aegean Sea and Greek islands coming down a mountain that about took my breath away. Niagara Falls is quite a site to see, as is Diamond Head volcano in Hawaii. I have been fortunate to see them all. On my bucket list is the Grand Canyon and the Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise Alabama. I jest of course, how could the Grand Canyon make my list?
Richard Skidmore, you see, is the keeper of the lighthouse atop the Gay Head Cliffs at the tip of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. These cliffs are being chipped away by Mother Nature, and the lighthouse was on the verge of being swept away into the ocean.
The lighthouse at Gay Head Cliffs is one of the nation’s most endangered historical landmarks, and it would have been gone except that a few years ago, $3 million was raised to move it 500 feet to safety.
This particular lighthouse was built in 1856, but there has been one on that spot since 1799. Today, it serves mainly as a tourist attraction, luring tour buses each day. Back in earlier days, boats were guided to safety by the beacon on the hill. Said Skidmore about the lighthouse, “It’s two things. It’s warning you about those rocks, and welcoming you home.”
Hey Richard, thanks for the sermon. Most sermons have three points and a poem. This one, thanks to Richard Skidmore, has two: 1) Warning; and 2) Welcome. And no poem. So, I guess that comparing the lighthouse to the church is so obvious any preacher could see it. Right?
Churches warn. We warn folk about the dangers of bad choices and the consequences thereof. We warn about falling asleep during the sermon and the fate of those who do.
We also, I hope, welcome. We welcome saints and sinners. We welcome home the prodigal son and daughter. We welcome new ideas (just kidding; not in church).
If the church does well what it is supposed to do, then maybe it will be around for generations to come. Jesus said something about us being “the light of the world.” Then He added, “A city (light house) on a hill (cliff) cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5: 14). I’m not so sure He had lighthouses in mind, but it works for me.
However, if the church does not do well what it is supposed to do (warn and welcome), then we too will be nothing but a place where tour buses stop and gawkers gawk. They will say, “What a pretty church (lighthouse). Now, what is it they used to do (warn and welcome)?”