The Haskell Free Library and Opera House has stood for nearly 115 years.
Its 20-thousand-volume library and reading room are located on the building’s first floor. The opera house – which seats 400 and is patterned after the Boston Opera House – occupies the second and third floors. The “Haskell” displays both late Victorian and Georgian architectural styles and it’s recognized both locally and nationally as a historical landmark. Its interior design is lavish, exhibiting both rare and local building materials.
This landmark also receives visitors from around the globe. Why? Its world-wide notoriety is due to its uniqueness as one of only a few buildings in the world that straddles an international border. Half of the structure is located in Derby Line, Vermont and half in Stanstead, Quebec. The Haskell has main entrances in both countries and, consequently, it has two separate addresses and telephone area codes. Since both the books of the library (in both French and English) and the stage of the opera house are across the border in Canada, the Haskell is known as “the only library in America without books and the only opera house in America without a stage.”i
In a way the Haskell serves as an analogy for the Christian believer. For the follower of Jesus straddles two countries and two worlds – and has obligations to both. In the Scripture Paul the apostle declared that, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body,” (Philippians 3:20-21, NKJV). Yet, the same apostle also declared that we have an obligation to the nation we call home in this life – America, for most of us. He explained that we should “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor,” (Romans 13:7). Therefore, though the believer’s heart may gravitate more and more to one country and to one world – the eternal one – he or she cannot neglect the other.
Yet, the Scripture tells us, this world is passing away and in its place God will establish His eternal Kingdom (1 John 2:15-17; Revelation 11:15). It also tells us that that part of us which belongs to this world – our physical bodies – will pass away as well. But we are assured that, when our “earthly tent” (i.e. our physical body) is torn down, “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens… that mortality may be swallowed up by life,” (2 Corinthians 5:1,4).
Until that time comes, we live with a sort of dual citizenship. We pray for and seek the welfare of our present Nation (Jeremiah 29:7) and we prepare for our future Kingdom. We support and obey this Nation’s laws, but, first and foremost, subject ourselves to the King of the Universe. We strive to make this world a better place, but do not despair when it seems we’re fighting a losing battle. For our striving against sin down here prepares our hearts for eternity. And as we strive in this life to turn others to faith in Jesus Christ, we store up for ourselves a treasure in heaven.
Dear Father in heaven, help me not to curse the darkness of this world but to strive to be a light in it. Help me to prepare for the world to come by being a blessing to others in this one. Amen.
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