I was asked to bring a reflective meditation for Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School Hall of Fame Ceremony. It was held on November 4, 2013, Will Rogers’ birthday. It was also the inaugural event for the high school’s 75th anniversary year of celebration. I began by imagining what it must have felt like to be a teenager in the fall of 1939 as the first students sat in that magnificent 1,500 seat art deco auditorium. Students and teachers alike found themselves in a million-dollar building on what had been a cattle pasture a couple of years earlier. The Depression, the Dust Bowl and clouds of war were daily topics of conversation. Today there are two very senior alumni left from that first graduating class. Looking back from the future is all about learning the stories.
For the past few years I have been hearing stories from some of the attendees of the high school’s 50th Anniversary. For months some of those same people have been planning the 75th Anniversary Gala to be held on April 12th. (Go to www.WillRogersFoundation.net for details.) It will be a grand reunion with hundreds of former students and faculty. I encouraged the class of 1989 and others to take good notes because 2039 and the 100th Anniversary of the school is not that far away. I ended my part by asking God to continue to bless the legacy of those who dreamed of a future shaped by inspired teenagers who would go on to do great things.
The future is always closer than we think. I remember as a boy trying to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. That was impossibly far away, if I even lived that long. Now it is 2014 already. What will your life be like in 2020? That’s just six years away. Do you have a future vision for yourself, your family and your church? Do not give up on your future. In our ever-changing times, the future is still built on our life stories and relationships, guided by God’s Word and redemptive love.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Discover the future. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Our church has a ghost, according to some. We have this large multi-storied building with lots of rooms and closets, two full basements, machinery rooms, hiding places under stairwells, two interior towers with hidden access points, a vast attic and at least four underground tunnels. Some of the tunnels have lights; one of the towers has a third level hidden look-out over the entire sanctuary. Youth overnight lock-ins can generate all kinds of eerie sounds and wild imaginations. The ghost story, though, is probably my fault.
In the late 1970’s there was a felt need among some of us to modernize the choir loft and pulpit area and to extend and lower the front platform to provide room for large weddings and musical programs. New, moveable choir railings were built with detachable handbell tables that could be added for special occasions. The work was all accomplished by the people of the church. During that period I verified a story about Rev. Pat Murphy that I had a hunch about. I was preaching from Nehemiah about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The completion of the church building was Pat Murphy’s dream. My question was simply “Did he use the biblical names for his opponents of the church building project, from Nehemiah?” “Oh, yes,” was the answer.
In the late 1990’s we embarked on a project to change the sanctuary lighting fixtures. It was a massive undertaking considering the ceiling is nearly forty feet high. I used the metaphor that the spirit of Pat Murphy was everywhere in the building and that I regularly asked him questions, most of which began “Why in the world…?” I was speaking metaphorically. Some took the story literally—that the ghost of Pat Murphy haunts the church and that I have seen him. I used to try to correct the impression of those young people, but now, some 16 years later, they have families of their own and should know that the influence of all people lives long after they have passed away. It does not mean they hang around as ghosts. It means that each of us is shaping someone else’s future, not just our own.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Bless the future. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.