At a 30th high school reunion people were bragging about how much they had accomplished. The most discussion came around the question, “What do you make?” Most shared (bragged about) their financial success. Some had been very successful. When they came to a teacher, they asked, “What do you make?” He had the best answer of all. He said, “I make a difference.”
Making a difference in life is the biggest and best paycheck anybody can receive. Most everybody can make money – everybody needs to make a difference. Never underestimate the difference that one person can make.
In 1952 Rev. George M. Docherty was serving the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He heard his 7 year-old son, Garth, saying the Pledge of Allegiance and noticed that it did not refer to God. Rev. Docherty was from Scotland. He said, “We say God, save our gracious queen, and God save our gracious king.” He couldn’t believe that the Pledge Allegiance didn’t acknowledge God.
He decided to preach a sermon that the pledge should include God. The first time he preached the sermon, it had little effect. But on February 7, 1954 because of advance security, he knew that President Dwight D. Eisenhower would be attending worship. He decided to preach the sermon again indicating that our pledge should acknowledge God. Like Methodist preachers, Presbyterian preachers do preach the same sermon again. It’s embarrassing when the congregation (or the preacher) doesn’t recognize that it’s a repeat!!
The next day representative Charles Oakman from Michigan introduced a bill to add the phrase “under God” to the pledge. It passed in both the Senate and the House. President Eisenhower signed the law on Flag Day of 1954. That repeat sermon made a difference!!
Recently a 14 year-old girl in Oregon, Claire Sarnoski, made a difference. When she was 10 years-old she heard Alter Wiener speak about his experiences of being in a concentration camp and his dream to require all students to be taught about the Holocaust. A 10 year-old and a 90 year-old formed a friendship.
Wiener was in 5 different concentration camps. When he was finally liberated in 1945 he weighed 80 pounds. His attitude towards life was, “Remember, be better, rather than bitter.” If someone offered him something to eat or drink he’d say, “I wish you were around in 1945.”
In 2018 Claire and Wiener went to work making presentations to the Oregon Legislature. In December Wiener was killed by a car as he crossed the street. Claire worked even harder to make a man’s dream come true. In May 2019 the Oregon Legislature passed a bill requiring instruction about the Holocaust to be taught in schools. It happened because a 14 year-old girl dared to make a difference!
If a Presbyterian preacher and a 14 year-old girl can make a huge difference – don’t underestimate the difference you can make. What is God calling you to do today?
What do you make?