Sunday, December 30, 2012

Walking the ditches of Route 20

December 24, 2012 marked the 100 year anniversary of Lottie Moon's death.  On the 23rd Scottsville Baptist hosted a "Lottie Moon Day."  It was a special day for our church.  We found Lottie's tea cake recipe and munched on these simple cookies.  We examined history in our Lottie Moon room.  We prayed for missionaries and missions.  We sang our faith and our own Lottie Moon (thanks Baxter!) shared a passionate plea for giving.
As I prepared a Lottie-inspired sermon I learned something surprising:  When Lottie returned on furlough from China she took residence with her sister Eddie in Scottsville…and it’s almost across the street from my house!  I couldn't believe it.  I already love the mountain view and my cow friends across the way…but now I learn a Baptist heroine was a neighbor?  EXCITING!  Following is an excerpt from my sermon:
So of course I had to check it out.  You might have seen me walking in the ditches of Route 20 this week.  I was on a mission. I laced up my tennis shoes with glee, grabbed my camera and found the spot.  Only a remnant of the house remains, but it’s there.  The remnant was larger than I expected, but in many pieces.  I brought a few pictures to show you. 
 I really wanted to touch her house--to imagine Lottie going in and out, to imagine Frank Tupper and other friends visiting.  It was great!  I touched history; but when I crossed the street and looked from a distance something struck me.  The area was overgrown and without Bobby’s help I wouldn’t have recognized it.  
As I walked home I realized it wasn't the physical disrepair that bothered me…it was the questions that lingered in my mind.  Is this what Christians have let happen to missions?  Have we let missions be overgrown with weeds?  Have we turned missions into a thing of the past?  Have we let denominational bickering get in the way of giving?  Have we failed to appoint new missionaries?  Have we fallen back on giving?  Do we even recognize the importance of missions anymore?                                          
             I’m afraid of the answers.
Have we ignored the true meaning this season--a time that should be focused on worshipping our Savior and sharing His good news with the world?  OR are we focused on the clutter of Christmas…focused on the things moth and rust will destroy?  Gift-giving is not bad—it’s a good thing, but excessive spending and excessive waste is to the detriment of the gospel.  
Do our hearts burn with passion for missions or is missions like this house—ignored and overgrown?  A thing of the past.  I didn’t even notice the house until someone pointed it out. 
Brothers and sisters, it’s time we take out the weed wackers and pruning shears.  It’s time we cut back the overgrowth and return the church to its mission.  You might be thinking:  “Hey!  Wait!  It’s two days before Christmas!   Let’s talk about joy and get to lunch before the Methodists!”
 No can do today my friends.  Missions is too important.  Today might actually the BEST day to focus on missions.  Jesus—Immanuel “God With Us”—came to this earth to save us, to love us, to bring peace.  We are charged to follow Jesus’ footsteps and join in God’s mission every day.  Brothers and sisters we cannot let missions be overgrown with things that DO. NOT. MATTER. Swiss theologian Emil Brunner famously said “The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.”  O…that his words were true!!

I pass that remnant nearly every time I leave my house.  Now I know it's there I can't help but think of Lottie and missions.  What a blessing...and what a bother!  I can't get those pesky questions out of my mind.  Katie McKown, does your heart burn with passion for missions or is missions like this house--ignored and overgrown?  Yep: Missional questions surface every time I leave my house.
That's the thing about preaching:  Preachers preach to themselves too.  Sometimes it's hard to say the words because we know how much we need to hear them.  We know how much we need to live them.  "The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning."  O that his words were true.  O that his words were me.  


  1. Katie, this is a beautiful account of your encounter with Lottie Moon and a challenging analogy of the "overgrowth" of missions. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks for your encouragement Frank. Wish I could be in your Sunday School class! Please say hi to your family!

  3. Thanks for the reminder to prune ourselves for missions. I feel many have forgotten how much we can do cooperatively.

  4. Thanks Rhonda. I forget at times. There's no one like Lottie Moon to remind me:). Hope you, the WMU and Linden Heights are well!

  5. Beautifully written, Katie! This makes me long for a Baptist church to call home. The Christian church we are attending now just doesn't seem the same to me. :)
    Sabrina (Cook) Reed

  6. Hi Sabrina. Hope you are well. I enjoy keeping up with you and your family on Facebook:)! You are welcome at Scottsville Baptist any time:)!

  7. Our family visited Lottie Moon's grave in Crewe on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 to commemorate that same anniversary. We also attended Sunday worship at the Baptist church near the cemetery—the one responsible for the care taking of her gravesite and where there is also a memorial to her in the church hallway. We felt very much the same things you've articulated here. There was nothing said, nothing placed at her grave, and no one seemed to have any knowledge of the significance of that day. We wondered if that was indeed a reflection of a much larger issue in our churches today.