The number 300 has found its share of significance throughout history and into modern culture. Supposedly, according to famous historian Herodotus, the emperor Leonidas took 300 off his private guard of Spartans to hold off the invading Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. In bowling rolling a 300 is a perfect game, you can’t do any better; and in baseball, if you have a lifetime batting average over 300 you are a good bet to make it into the Hall of Fame.
In 1964, I walked in line with my other 95 classmates out onto Davis Field for our high school graduation. In most ways, our graduation was no more significant than most, but this year happened to be the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Jersey by Lord Berkeley and Sir George Cartaret. As class president, I was to deliver the commencement address. I have no idea what I said that night, but giving the speech wasn’t my biggest thrill. I was chosen to be part of a 12-person choir to sing two selections that night, an honor beyond my wildest expectations; but of course, it was an honor created by the fact that only 12 of us tried out. It was a night for families, friendships, looking back and looking forward as well.
Now, some 57 years later I am part of another family celebrating a Tricentennial event and it has been quite a year in that process. It is so hard to believe that our church is over 60 years older than our country (if you measure it by the end of the Revolutionary War and Treaty of Paris). This is no small accomplishment; for it is the story of survival, determination, tolerance, and a strong faith in Jesus Christ. Each and every generation since that first small group of families gathered in North Woodbury have faced challenges, tribulations, and setbacks; but with God’s guidance and the direction and the power of the Holy Spirit, they prevailed and the church grew. The church has changed to be sure, We, like many mainline churches, have seen attendance lessen; especially as businesses and industries left the area. But, on we go; finding new strength, new disciples, and a renewed energy to carry the mission of Christ out of our doors, into the neighborhoods, and into the world.
My greatest thrill for this celebration service will not be singing in a choir; but it will be worshiping with my church family, filling my heart with the music and lessons of that day, breaking bread together, seeing some old friends; and waking up the next day and looking forward to another glorious day in which we all can serve our Lord.
Thanks be to God,