The Old Church

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Deuteronomy 7:9 – Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (NIV)

A few years ago, I attended a family reunion held on Wood Island, a tiny island in the middle of the Bay of Fundy. Now abandoned, it was once a thriving fishing community, and it was here that my mother and her brothers and sisters grew up.

On previous visits to my aunt's house in Seal Cove, I'd look across towards Wood Island, and see a church spire rising out of the fog. For years, this church, built in 1928 — just two years after my mother was born — was the centre and heart of the community, but what purpose did it serve now? There is no easy access or ferry service to the island, as no one lives there.

During the reunion, the family arranged a trip to the island, and gathered at the church for an impromptu service. From my seat in the narrow, hard-wooden pew, I looked around at the peeling paper and the worn linoleum. My cousin was playing the old pump organ, and, despite the squeaks and groans it gave off as she pedalled and pumped, it rendered forth a resemblance of music, and I found myself trying to imagine the folks who would have gathered here: grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and cousins.

On the one small stained window facing the sea, I read the words inscribed there:

    Fundy tides run deep, then ebb away.
    From across the waters men and women came to settle here.
    Like so many generations that come then go
    And now, their children and their children's children —
    Scattered all across the lands.

How true, I thought. The ancestors have scattered. The church has no purpose. We're all gone. Then I looked at my uncle, a minister, who was about to deliver a message to his family, and I thought of the many fishermen, teachers, ministers, nurses, and Christian lay people, who, as the little poem indicated, scattered, but had taken the Christian teaching and principles with them. This little church, and others like it, scattered throughout the countryside of our nations, serve a purpose, reminding us of the faith of our ancestors, and God's unfailing love, reaching down through the ages from generation to generation.

Prayer: O God, thank You for the faithfulness of Your people in past generations. Help us to be true to You, so that people around us, and in future generations, will see Christ in us. Amen.

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Elaine Ingalls Hogg <>
Smiths Creek, New Brunswick, Canada

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