Sermon Illustrations

The Procrastination Before the Ultimate Preservation of the Hudson Palisades as a National Natural Landmark

The Palisades, also called the New Jersey Palisades or the Hudson Palisades are a line of steep cliffs along the west side of the lower Hudson River in northeast New Jersey and southern New York. Around the turn of the 20th century there was a great conservation effort to preserve this beautiful landscape. The famed philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller had a major role in purchasing much of the land which is currently a nature preserve. The land was up for grabs by investors, nature enthusiasts; there was even a plan in place to relocate the famous “Sing Sing” prison in New York to the area. At one point, while there was pending a bill which had been introduced into Congress to preserve as a military park the splendid and picturesque Palisades of the Hudson, the work of their destruction went forward with great rapidity. The snorting drills which pounded all day long, eating holes in the cliff-top for the explosives, were operated by a large engine, protected by an unpainted shed. This unsightly building added to the hideousness of the scarred and mournful scenery. Within a month the force of men employed was increased from seventy-five to one hundred and eighty, and the demolition went on at a disheartening rate. Heavy boulders, torn from the crags above, were blasted into fragments every few hours, and scores of men were employed loading and sending to the crusher carloads of the rock to be pulverized for road-making. Eventually, In June 1983, the Palisades were designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Parks Service and it is a place which one day in the near future I plan to visit.

At the time when Congress hesitated and the work of destroying this beautiful national treasure sped forth, much damage was done to the site. Indeed, the machinery of industry nearly destroyed this most unique of landscapes. As Congress hesitated to set aside the best for future use and enjoyment, the teeth of industry were eating away one of our most beautiful national treasures. A spot which should be one of nature’s most beautiful pictures became for years, an eyesore, a sordid scene of desolation. How sad that Congress waited so long!

How much more sad it is that so often we, who have received God’s best in Christ, hesitate to give God our best, our firstfruits, the best of the harvest of our lives! Even while there is still day in today, let us not hesitate, may we let go of indecision, abandon our innate propensity to waiver, and give God our best!

From a sermon by Chris Surber, The Feast of Firstfruits, 11/14/2009

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