Comment from Ken:
First: I warn you this is not an easy walk not for me or for you.
Second: John McCraken always sends his sermon to me before he preaches it at the Chapel. I hope you have seen what I have seen in John, his strong faith and his ability to become an excellent speaker. If you attend Chapel this coming Palm Sunday, you will hear a message I would be proud to have written myself. It is a wonderful Palm Sunday Sermon. Don’t miss it! How proud I am of Candleberry’s preaching class.
Sorry I could not walk with you yesterday. I try to always walk with you on Tuesday, but this last Tuesday I was very busy.
In our new home here in Hopkinton, Dale has wanted me to make a simple chair rail all around the kitchen. That is not an easy thing to do when it has to be constructed in an older building. You have to find the studs hidden behind the drywall or plaster; some old walls are uneven, and a straight board is not easily bent to fit tightly against the wall leaving an unsightly space.
I had put up most of the chair rail, but I still had to sand it, putty the nail holes, and fill those open spaces between the rail and the wall with caulking compound. This was not a job that I was excited about doing, yet I wanted it all ready for Dale to paint. So I spent all day yesterday until late afternoon when Dale came home from school finishing that kitchen construction. She helped me clean up my tools and put them back into my shop. I was so tired that right after our supper I fell asleep in my chair. These projects are not so easy when you get to be my age, so thanks for understanding why I was not on my walk with you yesterday.
Glad to see you are pretty well bundled up this morning for the temperature is just thirty-five, and it is very cloudy. I want to talk something over with you this morning that causes me to have some inner pain. I do not mean the pain from a physical hurt but a pain from a spiritual hurt. But let me explain.
Now that I have more free time, I signed up for some classes offered by the Granite State College located in Concord. The classes last only for two hours, and they are held on many different topics. The first one I attended was on how to use Craig’s List. We still have many items we do not need since we moved, so I thought this might be a good way to get rid of some of them and receive a small sum in return. The second class I signed up for was a Tour of The Federal Courthouse here in Concord, New Hampshire. Years ago, I was friendly with the judge of that court, Hugh Bounds, and I knew that a visit to the courthouse would bring back pleasant memories of him and our friendship. I was mistaken for the courthouse would bring back to me some of the saddest memories of my life.
The present courthouse was built in 1997 so it was not the same courthouse I had been present in many years ago. It is a beautiful granite building; the tour began in the Jury Introduction Room. In that room, the clerk of court talked about the need and responsibilities of a federal court. After he had spoken, we were taken up into one of the courtrooms where two women explained just what would happen there in a jury trial. Some of those attending had never been in a courtroom before and were not cognizant of what procedures take place. I was; oh yes, I was. It all came back in a flood of memories. Your friend and pastor was not prepared for that.
As the court procedures were being explained I looked over at where the prisoner would stand in the courtroom and in my mind, in my mind I saw my son standing there, my son Bradford. In a flood of emotion, I could see him with handcuffs and remembered how his two brothers and I had caused him to be there. We were worried that he was going to hurt himself or someone else for we knew he had become addicted to unknown drugs. We had been informed by a psychiatrist and a nurse that had known Brad through his law practice and his work at their hospital that if they could have him institutionalized for a short time, they could level him off and help him back to a normal life. That was our hope and why we had brought him to court.
We lost because Brad had certain civil rights, and that day I forfeited the relationship I had with my son. Who would have thought some thirteen years later in a different courthouse I would face that terrible day again? He would not even let us drive him back to his apartment.
Why do I share this with you? For several reasons – for you see, it takes courage to bring up this sad part of my parenting life. It took great courage to make the decision to have Brad brought into court against his will. No matter how much courage it took, I had to do it to try to help him salvage his life. He was such a handsome and a good person inside, an exceptional lawyer, and a dear son; he was now sentenced by that court to become a homeless person eventually on the streets of New Bedford. He would die of an overdose of fentanyl, a drug thirteen years later that is now taking the lives of countless people.
We were contacted one night by the police that Bradford had passed away, and after his funeral, I had to look back to see what had been done to help him. I was always grateful for Sister Rose in New Bedford for her taking Brad into her shelter; I also was grateful that I had made the decision with his brothers to have him brought into court with the hope of getting him help for his addiction. That is what has saved me from an overwhelming sadness after his death. At least, I had had the courage to try to save his life.
Why do I talk like this today? This weekend is Palm Sunday when our Savior had the courage to go to Jerusalem to tell the world openly that He believed He was God’s messenger and witness, the very longed for Messiah. He had the courage to do that just as we have to have the courage sometimes to face difficult problems in our own lives and try to solve them. This father could not live with himself now if that drastic step to save my son from addiction had not taken place even though that attempt through the court system failed.
Let the courage of Jesus Christ to face what the future held, be with us – even though it is painful to do so. The courage Jesus had leads us to life eternal. The courage we have may save one of those we love from the grip of addiction and bring them to a life of purpose and meaning. If you are facing a difficult situation in your life, it is time to have the courage to take action.
Dear God, it has been painful for this pastor to share a deep hurt in his life; yet, please dear God, may it help others to have the courage to face difficult realties in their lives. Forgive our weakness, strengthen us that we may have the courage of Christ to ride into our Jerusalem that we and others may see the light and peace and goodness that can come with facing the truth. There was darkness for Christ’s life was taken from Him; yet that darkness that sometimes faces us can also bring the light and promise of eternity as it did to Him. Amen.
I hope you will join me the next time I go for a walk and until then –
“May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”