Good morning. Welcome to our morning walk. It seems so very strange to not be able to attend church services physically on a Sunday morning. I miss the fellowship, and I miss the hymn singing so very much.
Hymns are very important in my retirement. When I am working in my shop down in the cellar, I often listen to hymns. I have a television down there, but when you are working with noisy and dangerous tools, it is best not to watch tv. When I am painting an object or sanding a board, I might listen to a tv program, but most of the time, it is music that is my companion. My dog companion, Molly, does not like the noise of my woodworking tools so she seldom joins me down in the cellar.
I have a really good selection of hymns on my phone that I like to listen to and, truthfully, they comfort me in these times of separation and distance. You must have some favorite hymns as I do. I never grow tired of hearing “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”, “Just As I Am”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, “Are Ye Able”, just to name a few. Dale loves the hymn “Be Still My Soul”. My dad loved the hymn “In The Garden” and my mom’s favorite was “The Sweet By and By”. Of course, most of us also enjoy the Easter hymns, “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today” and “Up From The Grave He Arose”. I must also admit that on many days I listen to Christmas carols even though Christmas is still many months away. “O, Come All Ye Faithful” stirs my heart and my love for Jesus and His church every time I hear it. Do you listen to hymns during the week? What is your favorite hymn?
When I began our walk, I was going to speak about the rain we had yesterday. It did not rain for a long time but long enough to help a very dry garden and help drooping plants to pick themselves up and look refreshed. It was a gentle rain, and one that did not last very long. We are in a severe drought here in the Concord area, and we need rain very badly.
It was beautiful driving in the rain for a short time as we went to a grocery store – for the clouds hung down over the hills. The misty rain gave to earth an appearance of soft whispery strokes of color, not the vibrant colors that can be seen on a sunny day. It was as if a gauzy mist was muting the scenery. I wish you could have seen it with us. No painting or photograph could have captured the mystery and beauty of yesterday morning. Do you know, sometimes I love a rainy day.
When I was a boy growing up in Melrose, Massachusetts, a rainy day in summer meant that my friends would join me on our screened in front porch. It was a large porch, and we would gather there on rainy days to play cards or monopoly. I always seemed to lose at Monopoly with my friends when my older brother Bill played with us. One day, I caught him cheating. He was the banker and was passing money under the table to one of my opponents. When Bill was not passing money under the table, our game might go on for several hours. How about this question as well as the one about hymns. Did you ever play monopoly on a rainy day in summer with your friends? Maybe if we had listened to hymns while we were playing all those years ago, the banker might not have been corrupted and maybe our boyhood language might have been better as well!
Many years ago, we suffered from drought at the farm in Barrington, New Hampshire. We did not have a deep well, and if there were many people at the farm, we could run out of water for a time. We had to be very cautious with how much water we used during the summer. My dad often talked of bringing up water from a spring in the meadow that never ran dry, but that never happened. When dishes were done after the evening meal in summer at the farm, my mom would have whoever was near to carry the dish water out to her favorite blue spruce tree in the back of the house. My how that tree did flourish.
At the farm, you learned to really appreciate the gift of water, and you learned not to take water for granted. We worried if we were in a time of drought that we would not have any water at all, and we looked forward with prayer for water to come from the skies. Living on a farm, it was common to breathe a prayer to God for rain.
As winter approached, one of the occurrences we feared was not having rain before the ground froze and our wells would not be replenished. When the ground was frozen, we knew the rainwater would be washed away without sinking into the earth. And then too, we became fearful of forest fires when leaves dropped form the trees and there had not been rain.
The fall and winter rain at the farm could be cold and miserable. Just going to the barn for firewood and carrying it to the house would be a freezing task. You best have on a heavy coat and good gloves on your hands, or you would suffer chapped and sore red hands. But then there was a good part of a sleeting rain in fall or winter for we would have roaring fires in our dining room and living room fireplaces. How cozy and warm you could be lying in front of the fireplace and watching the sparks fly up the chimney.
Here in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, we are on a water restriction. You cannot wash your car or wash down your driveway. It is required that you water your garden with a handheld hose. So once more as when I was a boy, we pray for rain and long for one that soaks the earth for a few days. It also will be enjoyable to sit at a window and watch the grass grow green again. You can almost see that happen.
Our Lord lived in Israel – a very dry and arid land. The Hebrews knew that water represented life itself. The desert sun could take away your life, so it was important that people were kind to each other in such arid conditions. When a visitor came to your home, It was common to have him take off his sandals and for you to bathe his feet in cool water. One would welcome a stranger from the desert with great hospitality for it could mean the survival of a person’s life. On the night of the Last Supper, we are told Jesus washed the feet of his disciples with water – a sign of life and humility.
Dale just came back from taking Molly for a walk. Poor Molly rushed into my study and lies panting and hot, looking very much like she needs a drink of water. It is one of the things that amazes me about our special dog; she often goes into the kitchen and takes a refreshing drink of water. I saw my dad come in at the farm, almost like Molly, famished for a drink of water. After taking a drink from a dipper, I have seen him take water in his hands and cool off his face.
My mother would often say that when she was not feeling well or was very warm, she liked best of all to have a cool facecloth to hold against her face. That is one of my greatest regrets. When my mom was dying and unconscious in the hospital, I regret so much that I did not take a cool washcloth and hold it to her face.
Water is such an important part of our lives. It is to be conserved, and we should always be ready to help those who are in need of fresh water in our world. No one should be deprived of a life-giving right to water.
Among our prayers today, may there be one of thanksgiving to God for the blessing and refreshment that comes from water.
As Molly lies panting for breath, there is water for her to drink. As other human beings pant for water, we must be committed to seeing that water is available to all of God’s children.
From Psalm 65
You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it.
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.
You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the hills rejoice on every side.
The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.
We began our walk with singing hymns; we end with the earth singing hymns for God’s many blessings.
Hope to walk with you again next week – until then
“May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”