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1973 White House Worship Service Sermon



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Years ago I heard a story of a clergyman who came to church on Sunday morning and there was a snowstorm and only one person came to church. He was a farmer and he said, "Well, Mr. Farmer, nobody came to church but you, so I think we will just dispense with the service."

The farmer said, "I don't know much about preaching, Reverend, but if I had only one cow show up for a meal, I would feed that one cow."

So the clergyman got up and he led the singing, and he took the collection and he preached an hour's sermon and when it was over he stood at the door to shake hands with the congregation and as the congregation went out he said, "Well, how did you like the service?"

The farmer said, "Well, again, Reverend, I don't know much about preaching, but I know something about feeding cattle, and if I only had one cow show up, I wouldn't have given the whole load of hay." (Laughter)

I don't know any congregation that has had such a load of hay as you have had this morning. (Laughter) Especially after some of you danced all night.

But for my remarks, I want to base it on what St. Augustine based his great City of God, the greatest theologian since Paul, in the same passage with the same optimism that he had.

The Scripture says in Hebrews, the 26th Verse of the Twelfth Chapter, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only but also the heavens."

And this word yet once more signifies the removing of those things that are shaken and of those things that are made and those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

In other words, God says there is going to come a time when the world will be shaken, every part of the world, but certain things will always remain unchanged.

And as we look at our world today, we have been living through a period of earthquakes. We have just been through one in Managua and I was reading an article the other day in one of the newspapers that in California people are still suffering a psychological change as a result of the earthquake that took place there a few months ago.

Our world has been going through a series of earthquakes, social earthquakes, technological quakes, moral earthquakes, psychological earthquakes, political earthquakes, rapid change; but in the midst of all the changes there are some things that never change.

Just as we can land a man on the moon by following natural law that never changes and never varies, so there are certain values that never change.

First, the Bible says, God never changes. Habakkuk the Prophet said, "I am the Lord God. I change not."

The Scripture says there is no variableness nor shadow of turning with God.

Secondly, moral law never changes. Who can improve on the Ten Commandments for moral law? I believe that our young people today are foundering because no one is saying to them with authority in the classrooms, this is right and that is wrong.

We need a moral law, and I would like to see Catholics, Protestants and Jews united in our pluralistic society and say, "We would like to have the Ten Commandments read in every classroom in America every day so that our students throughout the country will know that there is a right and there is a wrong." The moral law never changes.

And thirdly, God's purpose in history never changes. When we look at history, we ought to get locked into eternal values, and eternal views of history. Things are not happening in our world by accident. They are happening because there is an ultimate destiny to history.

Messiah is going to come. A new world is going to be born. Utopia will come to earth. The Kingdom of God will prevail.

And when our Lord prayed that prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," that prayer has never been answered, but it is going to be answered. Messiah will come.

Until that time we are to work for peace and we are to work on all the problems, but at best, we can only patch and help and promote peace and justice in the world, but that perfect peace and that perfect justice awaits that day when we will have a perfect world ruler, the Messiah that both the Jew and the Christian looks forward to coming. It is in all of our creeds and we need to get locked into that eternal view of history.

I was in Nagaland a few weeks ago, high up on the Northeast corner of India, and people said, "Why do you go to that far-off place?" Well, I went there because there are more Baptists in Nagaland than in any other part of the world, including Texas. Seventy percent of the entire population of that state are Baptists.

So I was invited to go and I was the first American to go there in eight years - that is, American clergyman.

They have a cemetery there that they proudly show you. These are tribal people; they are marvelous people, a strong people, and they stopped, with the help of the Allies, the advance of the enemy in World War II.

They have a cemetery there where they proudly show you Hindu, Moslem, Jews, Christians, who died in the battle for Kohima. And there is a saying that they have carved in the stone. It says, "When you go, tell them about us. We gave our today for their tomorrow." "We gave our today for their tomorrow." The people in this room, many of you, the President, the Vice President, the Leaders, you are giving your today so that our children and grandchildren can have a tomorrow.

In the little booklet that was given us with the program, President Nixon said on November 7, on election night, "I would hope that in these next four years we can so conduct ourselves in this country and so meet our responsibilities in building peace in the world that years from now people will look to the generation of the 70s and how we conducted ourselves and they will say, 'God bless America!' "

As we give our today for our children's tomorrow, I say, God bless America, God bless the President and his family, and the Vice President and his family, and the Leaders of our Government."

Sir, yesterday you, asked for our prayers, and I can assure you that millions of people all over the world, of many faiths, are praying for you in the next four years.

Shall we pray.

Our Father, we pray for every American throughout the world at this moment as their eyes and their thoughts are here. And we pray that during the next four years we will see the culmination in 1976 of all the dreams and all the aspirations that those so long ago dreamed of when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and fought and died and gave their today that we might have a tomorrow.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(Text from the Billy Graham Center Archives Clipping File, January 1973 folder)
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Last Revised: 1/11/05
Last Revised: 1/5/05
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005