“Forty Years In The Wilderness”
Sermon for 40th Class Reunion
Mineral Wells High School Class of 1962
June 8, 2002
By Dwayne Cornelius
Read: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15:
“There is a time for everything and
a season for every activity under the heavens
a time to be born and
a time to die
a time to plant and
a time to uproot
a time to kill and
a time to heal
a time to tear down and
a time to build
a time to weep and
a time to laugh
a time to mourn and
a time to dance
a time to scatter stones and
a time to gather them
a time to embrace and
a time to refrain from embracing
a time to search and
a time to give up
a time to keep and
a time to throw away
a time to tear and
a time to mend
a time to be silent and
a time to speak
a time to love and
a time to hate
a time for war and
a time for peace
What do workers gain for their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil - this is the gift of God. I know that everything that God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. Whatever is has already been and what will be has been before and God will call the past to account.”
Can you believe that was forty years ago? It's been quite an adventure -this wandering of ours for the past forty years through the wilderness of the world - through world events caused in some cases in part by our deeds and our works - and through world events that we had absolutely no say so whatever.
Our "pop" culture made it distinctive - this Class of 1962 - we were truly a blessed class. So much optimism - so little turmoil. So what happened? Where did everybody go? Well -like all classes - everywhere and nowhere.
We were part of the "American Graffiti" generation - freewheeling through the tranquil early days of the 1960s.
We sported flattops and billowy bouffants -we circled the Dairy Queen at least three times every night out - and we occasionally might "Twist" the night away at places like the Roof Garden of the Crazy Water Hotel, the high school gym, the National Guard Armory, or maybe at someone's lawn dance after a football game.
Now we are here for our 40th reunion, and those hopeful teenagers who peered out of the Mineral Wells High School "Burro" have all disappeared, and in their places this morning I see the greying members of the AARP set.
But to borrow and change a bit some lines from the Statler Brothers' “The Class of 62 Had Its Dreams” - “we all thought we'd change the world by our works and deeds; or maybe - maybe we just thought the world would change to suit our needs; but the class of 62 had its dreams.”
And that is so true - we were fortunate to be one of the last two classes of high school seniors to honestly believe we could change the world. The world would have to change or just step out of the way.
That attitude changed, however, on November 22, 1963 -and it hasn't been fully regained by any graduating class since - the days of Camelot are gone - that modern day Garden of Eden has ended - and all of us were cast out into the world that suddenly seemed much harsher, with fewer dreams, and not quite so high expectations.
But, we have seen a lot in the forty years since graduation.
We've seen television evolve from a near novelty in entertainment to a basic way of life with almost everyone in the country having at least one set and most with two or more - all now in color with remote control - and with a VCR or DVD attached that allows us to set our own schedule to watch our favorite programs and/or movies. And, with cable and satellite, we now have available - not the three or four channels - but now there are hundreds of channels - the only problem with that is that its still difficult to watch more than one at a time.
We've seen the computers go from the old "Univac" that would take up at least as much space as half a football field, to a size that fits comfortably in a home office - and most of us have one.
Calculators have changed from the big bulky office machines to one that you can carry in your shirt pocket - I used to have one that was part of my wrist watch.
We've seen the breakup of the Soviet Union - leaving only the USA as the world's one true super power -I pray that we will use that position wisely.
We have seen the assassination of a president - We have seen the resignation of a president - We have seen the attempted assassination of another president - and we have seen the closest election of a president in our country's history.
We have seen some marvelous advances in the medical sciences but still have not found a cure for the common cold.
We have seen the near eradication of some diseases - but new ones have entered the scene -maybe more devastating.
We have seen the longest, the most costly, and most divisive war in our nation's history - Vietnam left too many questions unanswered and we have not accomplished what we set out to do. Several of our classmates have finished the race before us and I would like for us to take time this morning to remember them. Lest we forget: Glenn Allen Adkins, Lavinia Bevers, Dale Boone, Brenda Bruton, Chuck Garber, Alicia Gonzales, Ronnie Heath, Melanie Huff, Tommy Maxwell, Tommy Moore, Sidney Roberts, Edna Robinson, John Shreve, Sue Smith, Joyce Tanner, Pat Teichmann, Dorothy Walker, Janice Winnett, Cleo Winnegar, and Udell Wyatt. Let's pause for a moment of prayer and remembrance.
Yes, we have seen a lot in our forty years of wandering but we still have more to see and more to do: "For we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep."
(“Stopping By The Woods" by Robert Frost)
Today we are faced with a war on terrorism. We're faced with students going to school with loaded firearms and using them on their fellow students and on their teachers. We're faced with disgruntled workers or former workers entering the work place with loaded weapons and taking out their frustrations on their fellow workers. We're faced with incidents of "road rage" - upset another driver these days and he may take out a pistol and shoot you - or at least at you. We're faced with an out of control substance abuse problem. We are faced with the break up of the basic family unit across our country.
We're faced with an out of control secular multi-culturalism that threatens the very core of our American culture - America is supposed to be a "melting pot" incorporating all cultures into one - not a smorgasbord of separate individual cultures.
So how do we get from the comparative serenity of the early 1960s to the turmoil of the 21st Century - the turmoil of today?
We got to this point by stepping backward - one step at a time. In 1960, approximately 85 percent of Americans belonged to a church and approximately 65 percent of Americans attended church on a regular basis (and for the most part that regular attendance was weekly.)
Today, depending on the poll you read - somewhere between 55 percent to 65 percent of Americans belong to a church and approximately half of those attend on a regular basis. In other words only 30 to 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly.
Psalm 33 tells us "is the nation whose God is the Lord" (v12).
But what happens when the nation tells God to back away?
For years now we've been telling God to get out of our schools - to get out of our government - to get out of our lives.
And God, being the kind of God that He is, said "OK".
The acceptance of God in our lives is and has always been our freedom of choice - and with that freedom of choice comes the responsibility of our own actions.
A well-known atheist said that she didn't want prayer in public schools - and we said "OK".
Then someone else came along and said that we should not read the Bible in school - the Bible that says "thou shalt not kill - thou shalt not steal, and that you shall love your neighbor as yourself" and we said "OK".
Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their personalities might be warped and since he was an expert - we said "OK". (By the way, Dr. Spock's son committed suicide.)
Then it was suggested that we allow our daughters to have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents and we said "OK".
Then some of our top elected officials said that it doesn't matter what is done in private as long as the job gets done correctly. And we said "OK" as long as I have a job and the economy is good.
Someone said let's print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome, down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body - and we said "OK". And the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs,murder, suicide, and Satanic themes. and we said it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyhow - so go right ahead.
But now we are asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates and themselves.
It doesn't take brain surgeon mentality - we can all figure it out if we just think - we really do “reap what you sew.”
So we have slipped backward one step at a time, what do we do about it?
We can start forward from this moment one step at a time. And the first step is regular church attendance at the church of your choice.
To paraphrase one of the old western ads - "If you don't presently have a church - find one!
Because you'll love doing business with God.”
You'll love being able to call on God to lead you down the remainder of the pathway of life. No more wandering in the wilderness, but now following the pathway that God directs.
God has taken the initiative - God gives Himself to us - it is up to us to accept God's love and God's grace.
How are you this morning -are you right with God?
Today is the day of salvation! And there is no better time than now.Offer an alter call (invitation)
Prayer: Dear God - be our shepherd - feed us your word Lord and show us your way.
Forgive our sins Lord - for they are many. In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen
transcribed by Bob Samuelson January 5, 2015 -
One of the delights of the MWHS class of 1962 reunion June 7-9 in 2002 was going to chapel on Sunday morning at Clark Gardens with the classmates and hearing Rev. Dwayne Cornelius preach. He used the theme of a walking trip to lead us all back to the Church. We had met at the Holiday Hills Country Club at 8 A.M. for breakfast and then all met at the chapel at 9 A.M. Dwayne sent me a copy of the sermon, and it appeared in the Red Reunion Book. Dwayne played in the Mountaineer Band. Dwayne married Donna Baum in 1966 and they had two sons, Michael and John. He served in the United States Army for three years and in the Texas National Guard for 20 years. He attended Trinity Bible College and Seminary and pastored a Methodist Church in Graford. Marvin Dwayne Cornelius was born January 12, 1944 in Oran, Texas and passed away August 28, 2007.
Marvin Dwayne Cornelius
January 12, 1944 - August 28, 2007
Transcription by Bob Samuelson and used here with his permission.
The 1962 Burro, Mineral Wells High School yearbook, yearbook property MWHS 50 Year Club, digital format used.
1962 Class Scrapbook, property Class 1962, digital format used
Copyright 2014: Judith Richards Shubert