Please go to .... www.mreternity.info ... and open the audio of the 1930's sermon that sent Arthur Stace into the streets of Sydney to write his enigmatic word so many times ... It's a voice of a by-gone era and a sign of lost times ... and to learn again how to ache for souls to come to Christ, in a way suitable to our day and times. John Ridley repeated it in the 1960's when this was recorded."
Whether you saw ETERNITY at the climax of Sydney's New Year's fireworks or not at the turn of the century, you probably heard about it, and perhaps, wondered what did it mean?
Here's our scribblings of knowing the man in the 50's and 60's, and what an impact his word has had on Sydney, Australia, ever since. See Isa. 57:15, and Ecc. 3:11 in various translations. Pray that it will bring many into the Kingdom, when they learn to worship and follow Arthur Staces Saviour, Jesus Christ ....
"E T E R N I T Y" ON SYDNEY'S HARBOUR BRIDGE
Since the 1999 New Year's Eve fireworks in Sydney, locals have been agog with the mysterious appearance of the word ETERNITY in lights on the bridge.
It was seen world-wide on TV by millions, and children have been asking confused parents since, "What does it mean?"
Christians blinked with surprise when it appeared a hundred metres tall in a copperplate scrawl perfected by the writer sixty years before. It emerged ethereally out of the smoke to reveal an unexpected side of glitzy and brazen Sydney.
ETERNITY was displayed in the multi-million dollar extravaganza because the man who wrote it half a million times on Sydney pavements was a genuine Australian hero they said, a real outsider like Ned Kelly, battlers of the Eureka Stockade and Thunderbolt.
Organisers said it was a tribute to a man who died in 1967 leaving an indelible legacy. Observers claimed it was a stroke of divine intervention that God's sovereignty was displayed amidst the revelry of a secular nation.
The same promoters who roundly reject Almighty God in their daily affairs turned right around and proclaimed His most awesome attribute for the world to see.
Newspaper stories covering the incident said that the organisers saw in the wanderer that Stace was, not exactly homeless but a nomad around town, and it's that side of him that appealed to them. They were careful not to trivialise the life and work of Stace but to pay tribute to the man himself. They said it was to convey Stace's message to a wider audience. Perhaps the self-effacing and introverted man that Stace was might not have approved of that kind of immortality, as he did his work over 35-years in the shadow of darkness and when no one was looking.
Sydney news hounds took 30-years to track him down and reveal him for what he was; an evangelist. And they admired his mystery. Back in 1967 when Mr. ETERNITY died, the city council voted to have the word reproduced on the corner of George and Park Streets mid city, but for a while it was overruled by the State Government. It took architect Ridley Smith when creating Sydney Square at St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral to include the word embossed in solid brass in the pavement. It's there now near the Wall-of-Water and seen by more people each week than all who wondered for years about that mysterious ghost of the man and his nocturnal scribblings.
The Australian newspaper wrote on Nov. 3, 1990, "It is Arthur Malcolm Stace who wins our award for the one who overcame more obstacles to achieve fame. Born in poverty; a ward of the State, a drunkard and petty thief; served in WWI who fell into drunken dereliction thereafter. In 1930 he was, as one would now say, born again and became an urban missionary. Thus began the quiet meanderings of the man with the golden chalk and his enigmatic message to us all: "ETERNITY". Sydney's Daily Telegraph called him "the man Sydney wondered about." Puzzled Sydneysiders stared at his one word sermon year in and year out. Now they said, we know who he is, and thus began decades of publishing pages of his story.
It took a Baptist evangelist to arouse Stace's imagination that started it all off, but an Anglican George Rees asked 'why did Stace cling to this one word sermon for 37 years?' "Because", he answered himself, "on Nov. 14, 1932, that same wonderful word clung to him and would not let him go. It kept on thrilling his rescued and redeemed life day and night." Asked if he ever thought of changing his one-word sermon Stace replied, "No. It's always been the same. I think ETERNITY gets across the message—it helps people stop and think." It caused journalist Leo Schofield to think it through over Christmas New Years. On January 2nd he wrote,"Staces goal was to help us consider our mortality." It helps people, Rees said, to think high and think low. It brings them to the vast issues of life here and now, and the life to come.
Publisher Angus Carruthers who printed a small book about Stace did so because coming across the word ETERNITY was another incident in his early life that changed him too. Artists and advertisers claim no one word captured the heart of the city as Stace's ETERNITY. TV clips show them copying it, but never outdoing the Stace model.
A King's Cross store forever immortalised the word. Remo sells it at $500 for a two metre display sign. Postcards are a dollar. One framed ETERNITY sign adorns a wall of the theaterette in Sydney's Parliament House. It appeared as an icon in the movie 'Babe, Pig in the City'. In 1956, the Sydney Morning Herald published a poem about the mysterious Stace and his one word that captured a city:
Many nights he walked, and early mornings of the week,
Treading with silent steps the silent town,
Where none but drunks and whores were still awake,
His great word burning where he wrote it down.
ETERNITY he wrote, clear pure and pale,
And underlined it with the y's long tail.
Sometimes when midnight chimed in Martin Place
Behind the arches of the GPO
A shadow moved, but was it Arthur Stace?
Some flickering thing perhaps crept soft and low
On the dark pavement of the Opera House
But was it hands that moved there, or a mouse?
No one could say; only one knew for certain
That there and here in unexpected places
Somewhere that night the great word had been written
And Arthur Stace once more had left his trace.
That was – Arthur Stace.
Someone wrote years later that Stace was the kind of person who reminds us that when God measures a man's greatness, he puts a tape around his heart and not his head. Clergy preached that this man taught how to descend into greatness—just like Jesus ... The Dec. 24th, 1999 issue of the Daily Telegraph brought it all together when writer Troy Lennon alerted readers that ETERNITY would reappear December 31st. "It was only after people began to notice this neatly dressed elderly man scrawling his message that his legend spread. He was inspired by fellow veteran, winner of the Military Cross in the Great War, Rev. John Ridley, (after whom Architect Ridley Smith was named) that turned Stace into Mr. ETERNITY." Ridley, goes the newspaper, "was a lively Baptist evangelist and was giving a sermon on ETERNITY at the Burton Street Tabernacle Darlinghurst—near bohemian King's Cross. "ETERNITY? what a remarkable, uplifting, glorious word?" he cried to the congregation, "because there is only one ETERNITY." The words that really captivated Stace were 'ETERNITY, ETERNITY."Oh, that I could shout and sound ETERNITY all over the streets of Sydney. You have to meet ETERNITY. Where will you spend ETERNITY?" It was November, 1932.
As Stace tells it, he walked out of the church with the words ringing through his brain. He was seized to write the word. "I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and I bent down right there and wrote it." Stace admitted that he could hardly even write his own name legibly but was amazed what came from that piece of chalk—in a hand worthy of a professional calligrapher—the word that changed his life.
From that day Stace showed no signs of slowing down, until he checked himself in a nursing home in the 60's. Ridley often visited his old friend, and in 1967 he approached his bed with the words, "Arthur, Jesus and John are here." But Stace was dead.
In 1994 the word began to appear on the streets again to advertise an art film of his life, (which took off international awards in a dozen lands)—and since then his inescapable word has been repeated by clone artists attempting to carry on his work. They proliferated late December,'99, when it was known the word would appear on the bridge. When fireworks spelled out the word across the Harbour on January the first 2000, the invisible Arthur Stace reached more people in that moment with his message, than he ever could have imagined.
At his burial at Sydney's Botany in July 1967, the word "ETERNITY" appeared at the foot of his grave, as he scrawled it, and the headstone identifies Arthur Malcolm Stace as Mr. ETERNITY. Sydney journalists said he was the first and greatest graffiti-ist—no other artist did it with one word half-a-million times.
As Stace often said in the street meetings he addressed in his last years, "The great question is not what you make of ETERNITY, but what ETERNITY will make of you!"
The best of New Year's greetings from our house to yours ....
In His Strong Grip, Les & Martha – Colossians 3:16