1. Years ago, had you stood on the street corner and watched the funeral procession, you would have been extremely impressed. You would have seen standing there, with his head bowed and his hat removed, and tears in his eyes, the President of the United States.
2. Around him would have been the Cabinet, officers and members of Congress, dignitaries from Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Washington, D. C.
3. There was a tremendous crowd there watching that casket, draped in Old Glory, as it went down the road in that funeral procession. In fact, there was such dignity, awe, and respect, that had you not seen the President there you would have thought that he was the one in the casket.
4. Well who was this? Who was this person who was so honored? Well, he never held an elected office; he wasn't wealthy. In fact, I will call his name in a moment and I doubt any of you will recognize it. He got into government service, ended up overseas in Tripoli and he died in Tripoli.
5. But he was so loved and so revered by the people of this country, and by people from all over the world, that they disinterred his body there in Tripoli and brought him back to the United States to give him this magnificent funeral. His name was John Howard Payne. Ring a bell? I didn't think so.
6. Do you know what he was so loved for? Do you know what he was so noted for? Do you know why he was so honored and revered at his death? Because of one simple line that he wrote:
Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though oft I may roam;
Be it ever so humble,
There's no place like home.
And for that one phrase, they honored John Howard Payne.
7. That statement is true in more ways than one. There is no place like home. The dearest place on earth, and the nearest place to heaven ought to be the home.
8. But it is increasingly true in another way that there no place like home. For the home, as we know it, and the home as God meant it to be, is becoming more and more like the buffalo, the sperm whale, the whooping crane, it is becoming an endangered species.
9. There was an article a few years ago in the Atlanta Journal entitled "The American Family Isn't Mom, Dad, and the Kids, Anymore." Listen to these following facts: Today the "ideal" family of the '50s accounts for slightly more than 8% of American families according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other types - two income, single parent, step families, and childless couples - make up the majority.
10. In 1985, for the first time in our history, families without children outnumbered families with children. Add to this that the divorce rate has risen 700% in this century, that 50% of all first marriages and 60% of all second marriages end in divorce.1 It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the home and the family, as we know it, is in deep deep trouble.
11. John Nesbitt, in his b ...
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