I have always been fascinated by the story of John Morris who in the 1770s or 1780s built a house in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Story is told that the fire became a source of pride for the Morris family as they declared to live by John’s words, “the fire must never be allowed to go out” (Belled Buzzards, Hucksters, and Grieving Specters, Appalachian Tales, pp. 151-153).
The fire became the way family history was passed down from generation to generation. In the 1920s, the fire became the responsibility of William Morris, the great-great-grandson of John. William attempted to keep his nieces and nephews interested in the family history of keeping the fire burning, yet none of them were interested. It was important to William to keep the family history alive. William told his story anywhere and everywhere and to anyone who would listen. Finally, one of his neighbors, Hamp Alexander Owen, agreed to keep the fire going after William was gone. When Mr. Owen died years later, the fire had been burning for over 170 years.
Generations to come will be told about my Lord. It is clear that the days of Sunday school are past, and for many, weekly small groups are over. The busy lives we have created cause us to make choices, and more often than not, our choices are not that of intentional discipleship. Several years ago, while leading a youth study, I purposefully kept talking about Moses and Noah’s Ark. Went through the whole story, accepting animals two by two, and all the time saying Moses, and not Noah. To my horror, not a single youth ever realized that I was saying Moses. I grew up hearing the story of Noah’s Ark, along with a lot of other Biblical stories that have carried me through the years.
They will proclaim God’s righteousness to those not yet born, telling them what God has done. I’m afraid that generations to come are not going to hear the Biblical stories like our generation did. Even though I know the fire of our faith and the living Christ will not go out, I’m afraid the fire of us telling the stories to those after us will go out. The story of God’s gift of grace is one that needs picking up, like Mr. Owen did with the fire. It’s a story that needs to continue to be told from generation to generation.
Will you be the one who keeps the fire (Biblical stories) going?-Rev. Hollie Tapley
Disaster Response Coordinator
Prayer for Reflection
God, may we be the one who says, “I’ll keep the fire going”. May the richness of the stories continue to transform lives near and far. We have a story to tell – help us to keep on sharing. Amen.