Comment from Ken: If my story on this walk is rather confusing – it was a little confusing to write. Forgive!
Scripture: Matthew 6: 24
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Our granddaughter Cordelia, or Delia, has been with us for a few days of rest and relaxation. I know this is bragging, but Delia is a wonderful young woman with an independent life style who is delightful to have as a visitor. Her plans are to travel out west this winter so she is not ready to settle down for a while.
Driving her to the bus station in Concord this morning, we stopped first at an apple farm called Gould Hill Farm. As you approach that farm, there is a wonderful view to the northeast of the distant White Mountains, and this morning the atmosphere was so clear you could see the snow that has fallen on them. How beautiful but also a forecast of things to come.
Delia purchased a package of cider donuts and donut holes, and off we went to Concord. It seemed so strange to drop her off there and leave but this is a young woman who has traveled in Germany and Spain and is accustomed to travel. As a matter of fact, this grandfather was horrified years ago when I learned she had gotten off on the wrong train stop in Germany at two o’clock in the morning. I guess she was safe going from Concord, New Hampshire to Boston. We will miss her, and Molly, who loves her, will be disappointed when she comes home from “doggy day care” to find that Delia is no longer here.
I am an old man now, and I have to admit it. My walk has to be slow and deliberate, and a cane is a great help. My brother who is ninety refuses to use a cane, and he told his doctor he did not want to look like an old man. The reply to him was, “ You are an old man!” He still does not use a cane, and I keep telling him how thoughtful people are when they see you have a cane: a door is held open, a package is carried to your automobile, etc. My cane has shown me again how nice people can be.
Well now that I have admitted that I am an old man, an old man wants to share some stories about ministry before they fade away. Pastor Snow, a dear friend I knew at the beginning of my ministry, shared many old stories about the people he served, and I am the only one who knows them. . He was my mentor when I was starting my ministry and the one I could turn to when I needed advice on how to deal with certain problems that came before me. It was a long time ago so I believe it is all right to share those stories with all of you. One of his stories that stands out in my memory was about a man and a woman who lived in Johnston, Charles and Mirium Brayden.
Pastor Snow loved to spend time visiting Mirium. He would go to her home, and she would offer him tea. Then she would sit on her divan across from him, or beside him at one end of it. Her feet would not touch the floor when she was sitting on that couch. Sitting there, she would begin to tell her stories.
She came to Johnston as a young woman; perhaps she was eighteen when she arrived here from England.
Mirium was very active in Third Church, which Pastor Snow was serving and her marriage to Charles took place long before Pastor Snow’s ministry. It was officiated by the then pastor of many years, Dr. Minick. When Dr. Minick pronounced them man and wife, he said to Charles, “Well if you haven’t kissed her, before you can now.”
I love that part of Pastor Snow’s story for this day is so very different in morals and standards.
She and Dr. Minick did not always get along for they were both very determined people. For instance, Mirium was in charge of the kindergarten along with Erma Stevens. (Erma’s story is another wonderful story that might be told some day; a story of her and her devoted brother.) At one time, Mirium and Dr. Minick had “bumped heads”, and she would not talk with him nor he with her. One Sunday morning, Dr. Minick came to the kindergarten room and said to Erma Stevens, “ Would you please tell Mrs. Brayden to bring the children into church at such and such time?” Mirium spoke up to Erma Stevens and said, “ Erma, if Dr. Minick wishes the children to go into the church service, he can ask me himself.” That day he never did ask her to bring the children into church. There had to be a little stubbornness on both of their parts, don’t you think?
One of Pastor Snow’s stories about Mirium that struck home with me was because I had mourned the tearing down of an old Victorian home so that the land might be used for condominiums. Now those of you who know me, know that I loved Dale’s and my Victorian home. In my mind, for a wonderful Victorian home to be torn down seemed to be disrespectful of history. That was until Pastor Snow told me Mirium’s story of the owner of that beautiful home and what happened to her husband Charles. The man who was the owner of that house also controlled a large business. Charles worked for him during the years of the Great Depression. At that time, Charles was a young man with two small children and was an active deacon at Third Church.
A hotel was to be built beside the church just fifteen feet from it’s doors, and it would include a bar room for its clientele. Charles signed a petition against the alcohol license for the hotel. His boss, a part owner of the hotel, called Charles into his office.
He told Charles that he had seen his name on the petition and that he would like him to have his name removed. Mr. Brayden spoke up and said that he could not do so in good conscience as a member of Third Church. He also explained about little children coming to Sunday school and what he believed would be a bad intrusion into their childhood and church experience.
The owner of the factory told Charles that he respected him greatly for being steadfast in his conviction of conscience and then told him that his salary was cut in half that very day.
That is the way it used to be, and maybe still is in some businesses today. My dad worked for a boss who took great profits from my dad’s work and never treated my dad fairly or right. Some of the entrepreneurs of the depression years were hardhearted and greedy just like like Ebenezer Scrooge.
Charles went home and told his wife Mirium what had happened, and Mirium told him you quit your job this very day. And then Charles told her that men came to that factory every day with a bag of tools looking for work, and he could not leave his job for he had to support Mirium and their two children.
There is a happy ending to this story. Years later, Charles worked for another manufacturer who was generous and sharing. Charles Brayden told his superior that their company had a wonderful contract with Williamsburg, Virginia and that they purchased many pewter objects from their company. The company made Charles responsible for that account, and eventually as a gift, they sent Mirium and him off to England where Mirium had been born. Charles was given time off, and he continued to love his work and his employer loved him.
When Mirium passed away, her daughter Alice asked if Pastor Snow wished anything of her furniture for they did not know what to do with it. He was given Mirium’s divan and had it reupholstered. He cherished it for many years until a leg was broken, and it was no longer useful.
Mirium’s daughter also promised Pastor Snow some of Mirium’s lilies of the valley after her death for they were especially beautiful. He was always regretful that he did not ever receive them, but it was his own fault not to take the time to dig them up and transplant them.
To be a Christian is sometimes very costly – but as life goes on, I believe, as did Pastor Snow, that Christ restores all the injustices and hurts if not in this life, in the life to come. Pastor Snow was sure that Mirium and Charles were holding hands together forever. This pastor who walks with you believes that too.
When I learned how heavy handed the man who owned that large Victorian was with Charles I was no longer displeased that his Victorian home had been torn down for condominiums.
Maybe on another walk, I will share another of Pastor’s Snow’s stories that he shared with me long ago.
Prayer: Dear God help us to always be considerate of our human family. Keep us from greed and the love of money. Our Savior Christ has taught us how wealth makes it difficult to enter His kingdom, may we his followers heed His words. Amen.
Benediction: “And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”