MESSAGE FROM A SWISS CLOCK

Switzerland is known for making clocks. Swiss watches are sold everywhere there. Perhaps the most famous Swiss clock is the Zytglogge in the capitol city of Bern. In Bernese German Zytglogge means “time bell.” It is housed in an 800 year old tower in the center of the old city. This timepiece is also an astronomical clock and has been accurately ticking for centuries. It has been wound daily by the same dedicated man for the last 25 years. The individual gear teeth are removable for easy replacement; it is made to last. When it chimes the time little painted wooden figures march out on one side and do their mechanical dance as tourist click pictures. Note Hans the gilded wooden bell-striker in the cupola; he rings the bell on the hour.

 The Zytglogge clock tower in Bern is a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Zytglogge clock tower in Bern is a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This clock symbolizes much about the meticulous precision we saw in the character of this country. Precision is also seen in their Swiss knives, chocolate, and cheese. We traveled mostly by trains there which are on time, too. Close to 3,000 trains a day leave the busy Zurich station! Any delay of over two minutes is announced and apologized for. Nancy and I would often say, “This country runs like a Swiss watch.” This precision time keeping is also true of passenger boats on the lakes and buses in the cities. Often electronic boat or bus stop signs also ticked off the time until a boat or bus would arrive. Might I add that the cities are all very clean and tidy. Even public toilets are cleaned regularly, sometimes after every use. Very little trash is to be seen in the streets or graffiti on walls. This preciseness is seen even in the countryside where the exactness of how they cut and stack firewood catches your eye.

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This portable public street toilet looks as clean as an operating room because it is cleaned automatically. Some even have robotic arms that do the cleaning.

 The massive Zurich rail station with a reader board of the trains leaving in the next hour or so. It is on several levels for tracks and even has it’s own shopping mall.

The massive Zurich rail station with a reader board of the trains leaving in the next hour or so. It is on several levels for tracks and even has it’s own shopping mall.

Swiss clocks are indicators to us of more than the time; there is a theological dimension here too. The impact of the Reformation continues to have an impact on this culture centuries later. The Gospel touches the heart and brings repentance and submission to Christ. When that is true it affects how we live as Christ becomes Lord of all. The bible has many good things to say on how we are to be diligent and use our time.

Col. 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

All we do should be with diligence in our daily life because it is ultimately for the glory of God. It should affect how we use our time, how careful we are in our work, how we keep things clean, how we care for others, and even being on time for events like church. :-)

With that in mind don’t forget to set your clocks BACK one hour this Saturday, November 3, as we leave daylight savings time to fall back one hour into Fall! Then get up and to Sunday School and Church on time…like a Swiss watch.

Pastor Mark

MESSAGE FROM THE GROSSMUNSTER

In Switzerland Nancy and I visited the Grossmunster church which I had heard much about. It was built around 1100. The weird name means “great minister.” Truly it had a “great” ministry in Zurich and Switzerland during the Reformation. Here is why it important today.

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Zwingli, the pastor in the early 1500’s, became convinced this Catholic church should abandon icons, images, holy relics, mass, indulgences, celibacy, and fasting. He opposed mandatory fasting rule for lent by distributing smoked sausages during lent of 1522. This became known as the Affair of the Sausages and is considered the beginning of the Swiss Reformation. You might say Luther started with his 95 thesis while Zwingli did it with smoked sausages.

Zwingli wanted a return to the clear teaching of Scripture like Luther did in Germany. Until that time few people had bibles. The church taught a works salvation through the mass rather than salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. In other words he wanted a return to the Gospel.

Walking into the church prior to 1500 you would have seen statues, icons, crucifix, altars, and other glitter. Zwingli stripped the building plain of these things as well as the organ, and singing even though it is said he played twelve instruments. He also removed the pews and anything that he thought would hinder a focus on the teaching of the Word of God.

 Nancy looks to where the wide pulpit once had been.

Nancy looks to where the wide pulpit once had been.

 The inside as it is today with pews and the side pulpit that replaced the central wood one Zwingli used.

The inside as it is today with pews and the side pulpit that replaced the central wood one Zwingli used.

For one event he ordered a new wide pulpit be made for the center of the platform rather than to the side as in most churches. Being central emphasized the centrality of the preaching of the Word of God. This is why ours is central. The pulpit was made of wood from altars previously used in the mass. Therefore as Zwingli preached he was trampling under foot the theology of the mass that repeatedly put Christ on the cross. He made his point with every step he took. Sadly, when we visited, the wide pulpit was gone being removed in 1865 and a side mounted round one was built.

During this time bibles had begun to be printed and people were learning to read thanks to the concept of schools which John Calvin had initiated in Geneva. As people read the Bible they began to understand their sinfulness, repentance, and God’s simple plan of salvation. This revolutionized Zurich and other parts of northern Switzerland and spilled over into other countries.

Once you have traveled you begin to see how the true gospel of free grace affects cultures beyond church walls. My son Caleb noted that in reformation countries the churches are more plain and the society is more concerned for cleanliness, order, and beauty because of having a biblical view of life. Northern Switzerland is like this with tidy streets, beautiful flowers, little graffiti and a rail system that runs like a Swiss watch.

On the other hand in non reformation areas you are more likely to find extravagant temples with elaborate gold leaf, many images etc.. But the surrounding society lives in a more rundown situation, more graffiti, and less care each other. This is obvious in other places in Switzerland or Malta where the reformation did not happen. The message of the Grossmunster is clear. When the bible is clearly proclaimed it affects people, how they live, and society for generations.

Before we left we climbed the 187 ancient stairs to the top of one of the twin steeples. We saw a breathtaking view of the modern city that has largely forgotten the Gospel. But it still is beautiful and orderly like a Swiss watch because of what happened in the 1500’s.

 Climbing one of the twin steeples. Reminded me of lighthouse duty which is what ministry really is. :-)

Climbing one of the twin steeples. Reminded me of lighthouse duty which is what ministry really is. :-)

 View from the top of the steeple in Zurich.

View from the top of the steeple in Zurich.

It is good for us to understand history of places like this and how God worked through imperfect people to spread the gospel for the generations to come. So pray for the churches there today to be gospel focused.

Pastor Mark

Men don’t forget our monthly 8 AM Men’s Discipleship is moved to the 4th Saturday this month. If any of you guy have not joined that group in the Community then please do so you can get the automatic updates.







MESSAGE FROM THE MATTERHORN

Switzerland is known for many things like cheese, clocks, cows, chocolate, and mountains. It is these mountains that I can’t get out of my mind today. The most noted peak is the Matterhorn. For the past few days we have seen many faces of this stunning monument from our room in a Swiss village near it. Today we took a cog railway up it’s steep slopes to do some hiking. It is not the tallest mountain being only about 14,300 feet. Even our Mount Rainier is taller; but the Matterhorn is unique around the world because of it’s location and shape. Literally thousands come to see it daily.

 Our Gornergrat Bahn cog train climbs the steep grades to see the mountain.

Our Gornergrat Bahn cog train climbs the steep grades to see the mountain.

 Nancy and I and my brother Gary taking a break from hiking around the Matterhorn.

Nancy and I and my brother Gary taking a break from hiking around the Matterhorn.

Men first conquered it in 1865 as parties from Italy and Switzerland raced to be first. Sadly, the winning party soon lost four of their seven man team on descent when a rope broke and they plunged to their death. When asked why people climb mountains the most common answer is, “Because it is there.” I can’t say there are no good reasons for climbing that don’t somehow benefit human flourishing. But I do think that mountains like the Matterhorn have something to say about why they are there.

As Nancy and I watched the sun come up this morning it was as if the mountain awoke and Matterhorn’s icy stone finger appeared out of the fog pointing upward. It was silent but the message to me was clear as I thought of the first three verses of Psalm 19.

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard.”

The inspired words of Scripture are saying that all of creation is telling us that God is real and is revealing His reality and glory through the sky, mountains, sea and all creation. There are no audible words heard because the message is obvious. God is not in the trees, mountains, sky or sea as a pantheistic view would suggest. Such thinking only results in worship of those things God created and not the Creator Himself. But creation speaks in silent words with each sunrise or sunset hearlding God’s great glory. This morning when the Matterhorn appeared out of the clouds it was like the mountain was pointing to her Creator and calling me to be assured He is real and to be worshiped as the Lord who is all glorious.

 As the sun came up the mountain quickly blew away her wispy clouds to make her appearance.

As the sun came up the mountain quickly blew away her wispy clouds to make her appearance.

So if you climb the mountain just because it is there then you have missed the point. He put that mountain there as His “Natural Revelation” as theologians call it. He reveals Himself to be alive by all He has created. The remainder of Psalm 19 from verse 7 on is God’s Special Revelation which is the Scriptures. Verse 7 starts out with “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.” It is the words of God as given in the Bible that convict us, direct us and call us to worship Christ ultimately. So next time you see a mountain take time to read Psalm 19 all the way through.

Pastor Mark and Nancy

Just taking time to celebrate 50 years of love for God and each other.