The year of the great Centennial has begun. It is the Centennial of the Christian Reformed Church. It is to be a year of Celebration. Not only the membership of this denomination is concentrating on this grand event. The eyes of the church world in general arc on the Christian Reformed Church in the year 1957. And, what is most important, the eyes of the Lord are upon his church. This the celebrating church may never forget.
It is the Christian Reformed Church that is engaging in this Centennial Celebration. The initial “C” stands out prominently in all of these key words. Though we are out given to indulging in such rather childish pastimes as playing with mere letters and alliterative devices, yet the repetition of the letter “C.” docs suggest something to us. ]t suggests that this Centennial Celebration should be in the key of C. The Christian Reformed Church would make sweet music to God in this year of remembrance. It does so under the theme “God’s Favor Is Our Challenge”–another “c.” TORCH AND TRUMPET wishes to join wholeheartedly in this chorus of praise to God. We want to enter into this grand event in such a way that the praise to our God may be genuine and true and melodious.
In joining with the many thousands who in this year hail God’s century of favor we would like to point out two elements that must enter into this song of praise in the key of C. The first of these two important elements is that of Contrition. If there is not the note of contrition in our celebration, our festive year is bound to be void of any real spiritual quality. It will be empty, like so many celebrations of the world. There will be noise, promotion, excitement, pride, and empty hearts. There will be the exuberance of back-slapping “jolly good fellows” who chant gaily, “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.”
The church’s celebration of God’s century of favor may not even begin to deteriorate into something as hollow as that. And that which will stand guardian over this year of celebration is contrition. Why must we be contrite? We must be contrite because we are Calvinists—another “c.” As Calvinists we have received a most noble vision. This vision is that of the glory of God in all of life. This vision is that of the kingship of Christ over every domain and every dimension of life. To that vision we have not been faithful. We have made concessions, we have compromised. We must confess that our commitment to our Calvinistic heritage has not been strong at all times. In fact, we suspect this allegiance has lost some of its urgency, its militancy, its aggressiveness. We must confess that our response to God’s favor bestowed in Christian homes, thriving churches and growing Christian schools has not always been one of a people with spiritual depth and doctrinal astuteness. And, yes, the church must acknowledge that the acids of worldliness eat away at the foundations in many ways. If we are to celebrate fittingly in 1957, we must have a full measure of contrition.
The second element that must appear in our praiseful celebration in the key of C is Consecration. Before we sing this year, we must pray. We must pray long and earnestly. And we must study and meditate. These things we must do so that 1957 may truly be a year when the celebrating church shall reconsecrate herself to her high calling as “pillar and ground of the truth,” as bearer of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, as mother of believers who live in the world to further God’s kingdom and to challenge the world’s vanities. If the church is to rise to the challenge that God’s favor has placed upon her, then she must drink prayerfully and deeply from the fountain of God’s revealed Word. The Calvinistic church must gain a newly vivid sense of the grandeur of her spiritual heritage. The chastening of a deep sense of past failure to meet the great challenge of our spiritual heritage will help the church to gain a new and higher level of consecration to her exalted calling.