Reclaiming our slag

Reclaiming our slag

Cyndi and I just returned from a surprise family reunion birthday party for her mom, Peggy. (My bonus was that I got to spend three uninterrupted days with my granddaughter, Cici. She is quite the dancer! Maybe I’ll share that with you someday! ????)

En route, Cyndi and I stopped in Anaconda, Montana. Anaconda was established in 1883 as a smelting town to process the copper ore from nearby Butte, Montana. Forty years later, they could boast a smokestack that was the largest masonry structure in the world, appropriate to support their gigantic copper refinery which was also the largest in the world. From miles away, you can still see mountains of black slag, the byproduct of nearly a century of smelting.

What you can’t see is the poison. The byproducts contaminated a large area which led to Anaconda being placed on the Superfund cleanup list in the 1980s. One of the resulting mitigations provided a pleasant surprise.

In 1992, the town opened “The Old Works”, a Jack Nicklaus golf course that was designed somehow to assist in the filtration of surface water and aid in the clean-up of the area. What makes “Old Works” unique is that every sand trap is filled with black sand…the once-toxic product of a century of smelting. In fact, entire holes are separated by huge mounds of the stuff. It was one of the most imaginative and distinctive courses I’ve ever played.

As I later reflected on this delightful surprise, it struck me how “Old Works” is a parable of our lives as Christ-followers. Before we encounter Jesus, our “old” lives are poisoned and scarred by sin; by the decisions and failures of our past. After we meet Jesus, we are surprised and delighted to discover how he takes our slag…the castoffs and contamination of our past…and then redeems and transforms our “old works” into something new, fresh, and beautiful. What once was a badge of dishonor we can now point to as a divine reclamation project and testimony to the way Jesus saved us.   

What is one example of “old works” in your life that Christ has redeemed and reclaimed? After a while, we can forget the wonder of his saving work. Perhaps it would bless you to recall this moment the way in which Jesus made old things new in your life…and thank him for the cleansing work.

Speaking of God’s surprising, redemptive work, one of the greatest gifts Jesus ever offered to Chapel Hill was the opportunity to be received into a new denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Those of you who were there at the time, remember the long, prayerful process that led us to a place that has been a wonderful, safe, and supportive home for Chapel Hill. 

Well, believe it or not, that was 10 years ago! Yep. June 2012! And we are going to celebrate. On Sunday, June 5, we will have a single worship service at 10:00 am for our entire Chapel Hill family. We will be joined by several special guests and remember together God’s faithfulness to us. Then we will wrap things up with a big party! 

Pastor Mark