Comment From Ken: Thank you for joining me on our walk. Please know I welcome your comments and suggestions. I miss so many of you who have touched my life, but you are a part of my heart.
1Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
This is the first time I have asked you to walk with me in early evening. Maybe as it is cloudy and cold, it would be best if we just sat by the stove in the living room and shared the warmth and coziness of a wood fire.
How many times at the farm I sat by the fireplace in the living room, and then as the night grew late and tiredness overcame me, I would lie down on the floor and gaze into the fireplace looking especially at the firewall. Sparks would glow there and then fly into the heavens. It was a wonderful time to plan the next day events and a time to think of the days ahead that waited for me holding surprises, some good and some bad. Watching the sparks fly upward brought thoughts of that unknown future before me. Today if I chose the floor as my resting place to gaze at the fire and to feel its warmth, I could not get up without the help of someone or a piece of furniture to help me arise. So as we visit, I will be content to sit in that nice comfortable chair over there, and you can sit across from me.
Little did I realize back then that God would call me to be a pastor, and little did I know of how the days in my future would bring me to meet so many new people, friends and church members. Also, little did I realize that as the years passed by that I would lose so many I loved. Looking back to youthful days, it appeared that my loved ones would always be there; in life that is not so; a generation passes, and anew generation arrives.
We have just celebrated the day we call Memorial Day. It is a day when we are called to remember those who have served our country and who have passed away. Memorial Day was not always called by that term. When I was a boy, my parents called that day “Decoration Day.” Originally, Decoration Day was proclaimed to be a day when the graves of Civil War veterans were to be decorated with flowers. It was a time to honor our service people, but it was also common to remember all those who had passed away on that day as well. Certainly all who served our country were to be remembered but especially beloved members of your family. It was a time to reflect upon the heritage from your family members who had lived before your time.
When Decoration Day arrived, our family would travel to Lakeside Cemetery in Wayland Massachusetts. In that cemetery were buried my grandparents, great grandparents and great, great grandparents. I will never forget going there the year after my grandmother, my mother’s mother, had passed away. All of my grandmother’s children and grandchildren were there to remember her life. We were dressed in our best clothing, and we were not allowed to charge around in a game-like manner in that sacred place. We saw the American flags marking the graves of those who had served our nation, and we honored them with respect. Perhaps our parents would allow us to walk down to the to lake that bordered one side of the cemetery as long as we returned in a respectful quiet manner. We would skip a few slim rocks across the water to see who could make one skip the most number of times and then we would return to our parents.
Services were held in a central place in the cemetery, and the band played the hymn Nearer My God To Thee. My grandmother had passed away not long before that day, and my parents and aunts and uncles began weeping. They wept for those they loved and for those who had served our country. That is the way it used to be – remembrance and respect on the holiday we now term Memorial Day.
This past Monday, Dale and I went to the cemetery where son Bradford is buried. We had stopped to purchase some flowers for Bradford’s grave and for the grave of my Uncle Warren and his family. My Uncle Warren was a very wonderful, religious, dedicated family man, and I respected him for his strong character. He had lost a son at age thirteen who had been born the year before I was. In many ways, I know my uncle thought of him when he was around me. I’ll tell you more about Uncle Warren in the days to come. Dale and I placed some flowers in a small urn for him and for his family – Mildred, Nancy and Bobby.
Before that, Dale and I had placed flowers at the white stone with a mountain carved in it and some by the bench which has Brad’s name and a picture of our dog carved upon it. Brad so loved Katrina. I had asked Dale to go there with me for I wanted Brad and Katrina to meet Molly our new dog. I also asked her to take a picture of me and Molly sitting on that small bench. There is a smile on my face even in a place of deep memory and hurt, and that smile is because we have a wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With all my heart and soul, I believe in the Easter message we heard such a short time ago. Son Bradford is with my heavenly family under the care of the heavenly father.
Now it takes time to have that smile of resignation and comfort after you have lost a person you dearly love. It has taken some years to pass for me to not just be terribly sad when I visit Bradford’s resting place – but time heals our empty hearts and our faith fills that emptiness with the belief and confidence that we will one day greet by our loved ones who have gone before us. Because of this, there could be a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart as I introduced Molly to Brad and Katrina.
Hi Brad and Katrina – this is Molly.
Dear Lord, in our day it appears that much respect has passed from our families, and we seldom remember the loved ones who have gone before us and those who have served our country that we might be a free people. Help the adults in our society to teach our young faith in our Lord for the belief in life to come and reverence for those who have served our nation and sacrificed their lives for us.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”