Comment from Ken: I wish you time to sit by a warm fire and tell stories from the past.
7Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits),
dragging the net with fish. 9Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”
11Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.
14This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
Good evening. It is a little late for a walk, but when I walked with you a few moments ago, my computer decided that it did not like the walk. That’s right my first walk with you has gone the way of lost documents. I have a new word program on my MacBook, and I evidently did not save my walk correctly. Maybe this one will be better. I hope so.
I saw my primary physician today because I have been having trouble with my fingers being very numb and unfeeling in the morning. It is as if my fingers are still asleep when I wake up, and as I love to do my carpentry and write, I do not wish to lose the use of my fingers.
My doctor told me it probably has much to do with the very cold weather we have been having, and I do know that recently I always seem to feel cold inside our home or out. He had me take some blood tests but suggested that I try to keep warmer than I have felt as the first place we lose heat in our bodies is in our fingers and toes; that is to protect the core of our body.
Oh my, it has been very cold up here in Hopkinton this past week. On Monday after the snowstorm, the temperature never went above one degree. Dale and I stayed inside that whole day. I had thought I would go out and clean up more of our driveway until I was threatened by a caring wife if I did so.
This afternoon I folded the laundry from our dryer, and it felt good. Yes, it did. I remember my mother speaking of how she liked to fold the warm clothes coming out of the dryer for they helped her arthritic hands feel so much better. I sure agree with my mother, and my hands did feel better after I folded our clothes.
On some mornings when Dale and I are getting ready for the day, I cannot help but speak sometimes of the Native Americans of long ago in New England. Here we are in a warm house with hot water to bathe in, and we cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a tent-like dwelling this time of year. Yet, I suppose if there was a warm fire nearby and many furs to keep you warm, one could survive living with the cold. Around those fires, stories were told, and legends made. The fire would have made them warm, and the stories even warmer.
Dale likes it when I build a fire in our stove in our living room/dining room area. As a matter of fact, I have just started a fire in our stove, and I am sitting next to it as I talk with you. It feels mighty good on my back, and my fingers are not frigid cold. Stories and controlled warm fires seem to go together. Once you are sitting by a fire, it happens that the past floats up from the rising smoke, and the warmth of the fire opens your heart to share stories with others. As cold as it is, I can imagine those natives sitting close to each other wrapped in blankets with cold stars blinking in the heavens as the elders speak of creation or of the history of the tribe.
This pastor learned to build fires after my dad purchased the family farm in Barrington, New Hampshire. How life changed after the farm had been brought back into the family. Not only did I learn how to build a fire, but I also learned how to fell trees and how to cut up those trees with a cordwood saw on the tractor, how to stack wood the correct way, and how to best carry it into the farmhouse.
In the morning at the farm, everyone headed to the kitchen as soon as they were dressed. There was no central heat in the old farmhouse and, of course, no insulation. My dad would be the first one up, and he would light a fire in the kitchen stove standing in the kitchen ell, a large room that had been the original house built around seventeen hundred. Out of plywood, we had made a four-foot by eight-foot table around which you could seat a great number of family members. Stories and jokes would be told there at lunchtime, but the best stories took place at night before the fireplaces in the living room and dining room.
Many nights, I would lie down in the living room before the fireplace, a warm blanket around me and watch the sparks form on the brick at the back of the fireplace and then zoom upward. Uncle Warren would tell stories of what the farm was like years before; Uncle John would add to the stories. Uncle Alfred would speak of his days growing up in Vermont, and he would build a roaring fire that seemed to reach up into the chimney itself. When it was time to go to bed, you had to be brave to go up those cold stairs to a frigid bedroom. As my bedroom was just above the dining room, I could not distinguish the conversations but heard the laughter and the joy of stories below.
In my bed with frozen sheets (remember there was no central heat in that house) I would turn sideways in my bed and run until the sheets were warm. Then after a time, you would lie so still in the form of your body, not moving arm or leg out from the warm sheet beneath you. I would go back again and again in my memory to those days of cold and warm fires and stories.
In many ways, we have become a people who have returned to fires to gather around and tell stories of family and history. Many people today have a fire pit in their yards around which they sit, and in the warmth of fire, hearts are opened to their family and friends.
Our bible, our faith has been passed down to us by an oral tradition. The stories of old were told over and over by warm fires through the centuries. I believe it is in our very nature to love a controlled fire and, in the light and warmth of that fire, to speak of what most touches our hearts.
After Jesus had arisen from the dead, he met his disciples at breakfast time. The disciples had been fishing and had not caught a fish. He suggests that they fish again, and they catch so many fish that the boat nearly sinks. Jesus has started a fire by the shore on which to cook the fish, and the disciples realize He is the Lord. There at breakfast with a warm fire, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter is upset that Jesus asks him three times, but that is the number of times that Peter denied he knew Jesus. Then Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep. Peter must carry the Good news to others.
Tonight, I am going to have my evening meal with my wife close to the woodstove that warms our bodies and our hearts. We will share our day and remember stories that have happened during the past and the present. We will include Molly, our dog, in our stories for she will be lying near us because she loves us; well, maybe she’s looking for a treat. Tonight, I wish for all of you a warm home, a fire in a stove or fireplace, and the warmth of stories. May you remember as a part of your stories the story of Jesus our Lord who warms our hearts with promise and hope and love.
Prayer: Dear God, John Wesley your servant in Christ told how “his heart was strangely warmed” during his Aldersgate experience. May our hearts be warmed by that same love of Jesus Christ and may we tell the stories of our Savior to our children that those stories may be passed down through the centuries to others; 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. “