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Wednesday, 08 November 2017 10:27

Landmarks

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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Symbolism can be very important in conveying ideas and remembering the past. Throughout America, there are religious landmarks that can reinforce the significance of faith in our land.

The Newsmax website has compiled a list of its “Top 50 Religious Landmarks in America.” Some are not expressly Christian, but there are a number of these that have a direct tie to the Christian faith.  I have picked out a few on which to concentrate.

 

Two landmarks related to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appear in the countdown. At #48, you find the site of his famous “Mountaintop” sermon on the eve of his assassination, Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis.  #26 is also related to Dr. King: Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the pulpit of which Newsmax cites as the place from which Dr. King “ignited the Civil Rights Movement.”  He was pastor from 1954-60 and, “he and others led countless civil rights meetings and activism, supporting the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott.”

 

At #25, you see one of several landmarks with a relationship to the founding of our country. Trinity Church in New York City is where President George Washington, as well as John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, attended services while New York was the country’s first capital. Hamilton and some of his family members are buried it he church’s cemetery. About #12, Christ Church in Philadelphia, the article says, “Prominent Revolutionary War leaders worshipped here…”  Buried in its cemetery are “some of the most important political and religious leaders of the Colonial and Revolutionary-era, including those of Benjamin Franklin and four signers of the Declaration of Independence.”

 

#24 is The Billy Graham Library and Museum,which is located in Charlotte.  The story says, regarding Graham and the site: “The impact of his ministry and information about his life and organizations’ efforts are displayed through multimedia presentations, photos, memorabilia, and a tour of his childhood home.”

 

At #22, you find St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City, “the oldest surviving church building, the only colonial-era building, and the oldest public building in continuous use in Manhattan.”  The article notes: “George Washington and the first members of Congress prayed there after Washington’s inauguration at Federal Hall on April 30, 1789.” The story also says that the chapel “not only survived the Great Fire of 1776...but also miraculously survived 9/11. Located opposite of the World Trade Center, not one of its windows was broken.”

 

A number of these sites were related to opposition of slavery. Two examples: at #11, the Quaker gathering place known as the Third Haven Meeting House in Talbot, Maryland featured a group that was devoted to the abolition of slavery since the 17th Century. At #10, there’s Harriet Tubman Thompson AME Zion Church in Auburn, New York and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park.

 

At #3, you find San Antonio de Valero, better known as “the Alamo.” Newsmax states, “this unassuming and uncompleted Spanish mission remains the quintessential symbol of freedom in the West.”  The #2 landmark is Plymouth Rock and Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  

 

The #1 landmark is “God’s Square Mile” in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  Newsmax relates that, “This popular seaside retreat, concert, and vacation destination for millions is a lasting testament to the Victorian-era revivalist movement that followed the Second Great Awakening. Methodist ministers founded Ocean Grove believing ‘religion and recreation should go hand in hand.’”

 

You also find familiar symbols, such as Washington’s National Cathedral and St. John’s Church, as well as Old North Church in Boston.

 

Some principles for us: We remember landmarks, but we do not worship buildings. The Church is not the building, it’s the people; and the body of Christ is comprised of people who have accepted Jesus as Savior.

 

I think it’s helpful to remember the faith foundations of our country. We can recognize that there was a spiritual component to the quest for independence, people of faith were in a leading position in the abolition of slavery, and the civil rights movement grew out of spiritual roots.  In our individual lives, we can be inspired as we think back on times and places where God has manifested Himself in our own lives.

 

Finally, there is value in imagery.  Spiritual practices remind of the presence of God.  The illustrative nature of communion, as we observe the death of Christ and the shedding of His blood, can renew our souls, and the practice of baptism communicates powerfully the new life we have in Christ.  We see various images of God’s faithfulness throughout the Scriptures - twelve stones placed in the Jordan River, the rock Ebenezer that Samuel, altars that were constructed.  We don’t worship the symbols, but God can use the symbols to refresh us in our knowledge and appreciation of Him.

 

 

 

 

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