Comment from Ken: Miss you and love you. Almost two years.
Scripture: Mark 16:14,15
Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
What a beautiful day here in New Hampshire; autumn has truly arrived. It was in the forties when we awoke this morning, and now at two o’clock in the afternoon, it is sixty-five. The sun is so bright, the sky is a deep blue, and the trees are now turning to a yellow green. In some places, there is bright color creeping in to the marshy spots or where the trees have grown weaker and older. As we grow older, do we go out in a burst of color? I wonder. As life is ending, it seems for some trees that they show for a last time a beautiful, golden red glory. That is not what I planned to say. When we start our walks, I am never sure what path we will take.
This last week, some old memories of my dad’s farm came back to me. The Kearsage Shopper is a free weekly bulletin we have delivered to our home. It contains advertisements for business, special events, and some items that are for sale from a private seller. There are several real estate adds, and those are always fun to peruse especially some of the properties near a lake or pond. It is not unusual for some of the properties to be for sale for a million dollars, especially if they are a lake front property. Imagine that!
What interested me this last week was an ad asking if anyone would like to take down an old carriage shed for free. The windows were to be given to the historical society. That is what brought back a flood of memories to me for when I was sixteen, my dad wished an unsightly old woodshed to be torn down. I asked my father if I took it down, would I be able to rebuild it as a home on top of a hill my father owned called Greenhill. He told me that I could and that was how, years later, I came to build a real home on top of that hill. When I saw an ad for that carriage house now in its antiquity, all I could think of was the craft projects you could make from that weathered gray wood. If only I were a young man…
As I am now in my eighties, I can still do much carpentry, but the days of pulling down a building and rebuilding it on a piece of property are over. That is just a fact of life I must live with although I sometimes wish that were not so. My projects now have to be rather small ones, and ones where I can rest and sit often.
This November, I will have been retired from the active ministry for two years. My way of life now is so very different from my life in the past. Before I retired, people surrounded me each and every day. My weekends as a pastor were incredibly busy. There was little time for me to do carpentry projects and little time to think beyond my everyday responsibilities. I think that I believed I would never retire but would be active in the ministry for all of my life. That was something that could not happen because my health and strength changed. No longer could I stand on my feet for long periods of time, and no longer could I perform all the services of a pastor at a funeral when the weather was cold and bitter. There came to me that time I never envisioned – a time when I would have to retire and leave the profession I so loved for so many years.
When I had to cut my active ministry short, I know there were some who thought that I had forgotten them and that they no longer were a part of my life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When I was at Tufts College, I came to the determination that the most important part of life was PEOPLE. That was to be the dedication of my life to care and love people. That has never changed. I am able, at times, to preach when I am asked, but other than that the people I have loved and still love live with me each day.
God has been so good to me for He has given me a good memory I can vividly recall many of the people I have served over the years in many different churches. So if you are reading this walk, you must know you are not forgotten – but still a part of my life. In moments of quiet if I was a part of your daily problems, I can still worry about you
I can look back and ask if all those babies I baptized have followed the Christian faith, and if all the couples I joined in marriage are still happy in their marriage. I can think of the innumerable funerals I have officiated at and wonder if the loved ones left are doing ok.
If you are reading this, just know I am thinking of you and I love you. Perhaps you did not agree with some parts of my ministry, I still remember you and seek to love you and pray for you. In my heart, I will always be a minister of Jesus Christ – that will never change. Some of you were so loving and faithful to me, I will always be grateful to you.
The most difficult part of being a pastor for me has been the necessity of separating myself from the church people I have served. Ethics state that it is not fair to a new pastor for an old one to interfere with the past pastorate he or she has served. That is painful to accept, but I knew, especially in my last Chapel, that had to be. But again, you are not forgotten. Thank you for being a part of my life, and yes, we can meet on these walks. I hope you will walk with me very often.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the people in our lives who have shared their lives with us. As your children, may we always be faithful to You and to our neighbors. May we love each other as You have loved us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Benediction: “And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”