What the Church Means to Us in WAR-TIME

Some of the war wives of Tylers Street Methodist Chrurch.  Virginia is seated on the ground at the left-hand side of the picture.

*The following talk was given by my grandmother at the Sweetheart Banquet Friday evening, December 8th, 1944.  I think it’s brilliant.  Anything I added to it would be superfluous.

There is a legend from China about two surveyors who were crossing a trackless desert and to guide them they carried a map showing certain trees, streams, and contours of land which they were to follow. The journey was comparatively easy until one night a terrible storm came, during which they found refuge in a cave. On the following morning when they again started their journey, they found that all of the landmarks had either been swept away by the wind or washed away by the rain. They were lost—both were desperate—for their maps were now useless. All day long they tried to figure out a way to safety but could find no help. About midnight, one surveyor ran into the cave, crying out “Were saved…we can find our way through this desolation.” “How?” his friend asked, thinking he had gone crazy. “Because,” replied the surveyor, “The stars are still there.”

When the storm of war came into our world, taking from us for awhile that person dearest to the heart of each of us, in many instances we felt alone and lost and desolate—until suddenly, we realized that God’s universal laws still prevail and that through his church we might find the stars of faith and hope in a better day to come, the star of courage to face each day with our chin up and a smile, the star of prayer—that safety, good health, and cheer might attend our loved ones wherever they may be, a star of love—great enough to shine out over Bethlehem so that shepherds watching afar might see—great enough to cause four men of God to give their lifebelts so that others might live—great enough to strengthen the tie between two hearts so that even though they may be parted by continents or oceans, they are still together.

We would not forget the fun and fellowship which this, our church, has made possible for us, nor the things which have been done in Tyler Street Church in honor of its members serving in the armed forces. In remembering them, you have struck the closest chord to our hearts. As a concrete example and just to show you what the picture service rolls in the vestibule means, I know of one girl who never enters the sanctuary without first looking at the picture of her husband. Then I know, she must enter feeling a little closer to him and they a little closer to God. We would not forget the inspiration found in any of the church services. For instance, I do not think there is a girl who has participated in the Communion Service each first Sunday without feeling somehow a little closer to her absent love one.

There is a radio program from Chicago each morning called the Breakfast Club. No doubt, many of you listen to it. It is full of fun, good music, and is a peppy way to start the day. Recently, they have instituted on this program, a short period of prayer for the boys in the armed services and the speedy coming of V-day. It is a magnificent thing that a program of this character should set aside a few minutes for prayer, and I would not detract one bit from the thought which inspired this prayer period—but after V-Day, what then? Will it not be just as important that we pray then that we shall not fail in keeping the peace? Every wife and every sweetheart honored here tonight has within her heart a dream, yet unrealized or unfulfilled, a dream of her world to be when the storm of war is over. When we again received our own, we must also keep our eyes on the stars that we have found through this, our church, so that our returning servicemen will find friendships, hope, faith, understanding and love. For their eyes, too, have been our stars—the stars of home, and we must not fail them.

We look to this, our church, to recognize them, to extend to them first the warm hand of friendship and welcome, and then to open avenues of service, perhaps in an official capacity, through a Church School Class, or in some other way. For we are ever mindful that it is not what is give to us that keeps our eyes on the stars, but the things we, ourselves, are privileged to give.

So through this, our church, we will keep our eyes on love, faith, understanding, and courage, and we will keep our hopes high that these, our dreams, may yet come true.

-Virginia Durham

An episode of the Breakfast Club for your listening pleasure: