Comment by Ken: My childhood pastor Dr. Wallace Forgey charged me at my ordination to preach God’s word wherever it is found. It is found today in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
It is a Saturday, and it is eleven o’clock in the morning. I am so pleased you can be with me today to share our walk. It is warm and muggy outside, not my favorite kind of day. The leaves are beginning to turn up here in New Hampshire, but they have a long way to go before they are at the height of their color. With each passing day, autumn approaches with its cold nights and warm days. It is my favorite season of the year, and I know that many people express the same love of this season of the year.
I apologize that our weekly walks have been postponed sometimes for longer periods of time. One of the reasons for that is that we are involved in adding a room to our new home. One of the rooms is going to be my study. For years, I had a beautiful study in our home in Attleboro, and I had done much of the finish work in that room. It is my desire to make my new study a place where I have done some of the carpentry. I have been making raised panels to go around the room as a wainscoting. There are fifty-four panels, and those take a long time to make.
The other day as I was covered with sawdust and was working with some wood, it came across my mind that I had been an active minister for Jesus Christ for such a very long time, and now I am spending many hours as a carpenter. Jesus left the carpentry trade to be a spokesman for God; He only lived to be thirty-three. I have lived fifty years beyond that time, and health is such that I cannot be a full time minister. Not only do I miss the ministry, I miss the people who have been a part of my life for fifty-five years. So unlike my Master, I have returned to carpentry; it is the way I spend many of my hours until my energy disappears, and I find a chair calling me to take a nap. Even though my life is different now, Jesus is still the central calling of my life, and without Him, I would be lost.
There was good news this week, and that was that Rev. Brad Miller has been called to be the interim pastor at Candleberry Chapel. It was Dale and my fondest hope that the chapel would continue after my health required a change in my life. It is a wonderful feeling for me that Brad Miller carries the name of son Brad. Bradford worked with me on many of the projects on the chapel. He helped me pour the concrete floor, shingle the roof, replace rotted beams under the building and chase out the raccoon who lived in the cupola on the top of the then carriage house. His spirit always seemed close there, and now there is another Brad connected to Candleberry.
Brad, the new pastor, and I had a telephone conversation. During that conversation, he expressed his main concern was to take good pastoral care of the Candleberry family. He wanted to know if there were any people on my list that he should know about and reach out to with a loving heart and hands. Truly it is apparent that the board of directors and those involved with calling an interim pastor found the correct candidate. As he wrote in his weekly letter to the congregation, God has directed his life. With all my heart, I believe God wanted him to be there in the Chapel. Every church I have served and become aware of the history of the pastors of that church, I have come to the conclusion that every one of the pastors, some loved by the congregation and some not loved, were there for one of God’s purposes. Each pastor in the history of the church has fulfilled part of God’s plan. Well, that is my opinion whether you share it or not.
As you share Brad’s ministry or some other minister you know in your life, may you also look at your own life and its relationship to the Lord. God does not just call ordained ministers to his churches; all of us are His ministers. Each one of us needs to look closely at our own lives and see how God has guided us and influenced our lives day by day. How has the Lord our God influenced your life? Do you daily feel His presence and His guiding hand? Do you talk to Him often? Sometimes when I am covered with wood shavings and sawdust and there is sweat on my brow, I think and spend more time with Jesus in my life than ever before.
Since coming to New Hampshire, I have built a library of music, mostly hymns. There is one hymn I have come to love entitled “My Cathedral.” It is sung by George Beverly Shea. As I was searching for the words to that hymn, I came across a poem by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. Those words are very fitting for we have had some bushes and small trees removed from the side of our hill to expose some of out tall pine trees. We are planning to place the granite bench Dale gave me a long time ago and a small granite table near those pines. Back in the world of nature where I grew up, I have re-found another cathedral in my life.
My Cathedral by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Like two cathedral towers these stately pines
Uplift their fretted summits tipped with cones;
The arch beneath them is not built with stones,
Not Art but Nature traced these lovely lines,
And carved this graceful arabesque of vines;
No organ but the wind here sighs and moans,
No sepulcher conceals a martyr’s bones.
No marble bishop on his tomb reclines.
Enter! the pavement, carpeted with leaves,
Gives back a softened echo to thy tread!
Listen! the choir is singing; all the birds,
In leafy galleries beneath the eaves,
Are singing! listen, ere the sound be fled,
And learn there may be worship without words.”
Dear God, bless the new ministry of Brad Miller and bless all pastors everywhere. Help them to know Your will and grant them peace as well as challenge as they seek to do Your will. And grant to us the laypeople of the Christian Church an awareness of Your will that Your kingdom might come on earth, as it is in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”