The Church and the World walked far apart
On the changing shore of time;
The World was singing a silly song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
“Come, give your hand,” said the smiling World,
“And together we shall go!”
But the good Church hid her snowy hand
And solemnly answered, “No!!
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you.
Your way is the way of eternal death,
And your words are all untrue.”
“No, walk with me a little ways,”
Said the World with a kindly air.
“ The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there.
Your path is thorny and rough and rude,
But mine is broad and plain;
My way is paved with flowers and dews,
And yours with tears and pain.
The sky to me is always blue,
No lack, no toil I know;
The sky above you is always dark;
Your lot is a lot of woe.
My way, you can see, is a soft, easy one,
And my gate is high and wide;
There is room enough for you and me;
So let’s travel side by side.”
Half shyly the Church approached the World
And gave him her hand of snow;
And the false World grasped it, and walked along
And whispered in accents low,
“Your dress is too simple to please my taste;
I have pinks and oranges to wear,
Sensuous hues for your graceful form
And sprays to fluff your hair.”
Then added he, with a shake of his head,
Shielding his eyes in the glare,
“ It makes much sense in this fierce sunshine
Your comely calves to bare.”
The Church looked down at her plain, modest clothes
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip,
With a smile contemptuous curled.
“I will change my dress for a prettier one,”
Said the Church with a smile of grace;
So her simple garments were stashed away,
And the World gave, in their place,
Beautiful satins and flowery sheens,
With roses and lace and swirls;
While over her forehead her bright hair fell
In two bouncy, enticing curls.
“Your house is too plain” said the proud old World,
“Let us build you one like mine,
With kitchen for feasting and rec room for play
And cabinets never so fine.”
So he built her a costly and beautiful house;
Awesome it was to behold!
Her sons and her daughters met frequently there,
Shining in purple and gold.
There were cushioned seats for the lazy and rich,
To sit in their glutton and pride;
But the poor who were clad in humble array,
Were scorned ‘til they went outside.
Powerpoints and films in the halls were shown,
And the World and his children were there.
Laughter and music and Ping-Pong were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
The angel in mercy rebuked the Church,
And whispered, “I know thy sin.”
Then the Church looked sad, and anxiously longed
To gather the children in.
But some were away at the midnight bowl,
And others online did play,
And some were hangin’ at Pizza Hut:
So the angel went away.
Then said the World in soothing tones,
“Your children mean no harm—
Merely indulging in innocent sports,”
So she leaned on his proffered arm,
And texted, and chatted, and uploaded photos,
And walked along with the World,
While countless millions of precious souls
Over the fearful brink were hurled.
“Your preachers are too old-fashioned and plain,”
Said the smart World with a sneer.
“ They frighten my children with dreadful tales
Which I do not like to hear.
They talk of judgments and fire and pain,
And the doom of darkest night.
They warn of a place that should not be
Mentioned to ears polite!
I will send you some of a better stamp,
More brilliant, educated, fast;
Who will show how men their flesh may please
And go to heaven at last.
The Father is merciful, great and good;
Loving and tender and kind.
Do you think He’d take one child to heaven
And leave another behind?”
So she called for pleasing and smart divines,
Deemed gifted and great and learned;
And the plain-spoken men who had preached the cross
Were out of her pulpits turned.
Then Mammon came in and supported the Church
And sat in a well-padded pew;
And preaching and chorals and floral display
Soon proclaimed a gospel new.
“You give too much to the poor,” said the World,
“Far more than you ought to do;
Though the poor need shelter, food, and clothes,
Why thus need it deprive you?
And afar to the heathen in foreign lands
Your thoughts need seldom roam.
The Father of mercies will care for them:
Let charity start at home.
Go take your money and buy nice shoes
And cars and pickups fine;
And phones and iPods and cameras,
The latest and costliest kind.
My children, they dote on all such things,
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do, and walk in the way—
The up-to-date way they’re in.”
The Church her purse snaps tightly shut
And shamefully lowered her head.
She whimpered, “I’ve given too much away.
I will do, sir, as you have said.”
So the poor were pushed out of her mind;
She heard not the orphan’s cry;
And she silently covered her MasterCard
As the widows went weeping by.
Thus they of the Church and they of the World
Journeyed closely, hand and heart.
And none but the Master, who knows all things,
Understood they had once walked apart.
Then the Church sat down at ease and said,
“I am rich and in goods increased.
I have need of nothing, and naught to do,
But to play, to sing, and to eat.”
The sly World heard her and laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside,
“ The Church has fallen, the beautiful Church;
Her shame is her boast and pride.”
Thus her witnessing power, alas, was lost,
And perilous times came in;
The times of the end, so often foretold,
Of form and pleasure and sin.
Then the angel drew near the mercy seat
And whispered in sighs her name,
And the saints their anthems of rapture hushed
And covered their heads with shame.
A voice came down from the hush of heaven,
From Him who sat on the throne;
“ I know your works and what you have said—
But alas! You have not known,
That you are poor and naked and blind,
With pride and ruin ensnared;
The expectant bride of a heavenly Groom
Is the harlot of the World!
You have ceased to watch for that blessed hope,
Have fallen from zeal and grace;
So now, alas! I must cast you out
And blot your name from its place.”
Author unknown; this version taken from The Heartbeat of the Remnant (January/February 2010), 400 W. Main Street Ste. 1, Ephrata, PA 17522.