It’s Sunday morning, and I am feeling well fed. This morning my wife Dale prepared a breakfast of pancakes with an apple topping. There also was some turkey sausage and a small glass of grape juice. Now how spoiled am I? Very! After doing the breakfast dishes – Dale cooks, I clean up the cooking mess – I took my cup of coffee and went into my study. Of course,Molly followed me, and she is presently under my desk snoring and dreaming of how nice and cold it was this morning with her fur coat not making her overly warm as it has all summer long.Our dog Molly recognizes that Autumn is almost here.
When I was a child, breakfast was a major undertaking for my parents. Imagine nine people for breakfast. My father prepared breakfast on the weekends, and we had stacks of pancakes, French toast, fried eggs, orange juice and bacon. It is with amazement that I look back upon those days wondering just how my mother and my father could love and care for their seven children no matter what troubles we sometimes brought to them. After breakfast on a Sunday such as this one, we would go to church school, known then as Sunday school. When we returned home from church, we would all help prepare the Sunday dinner. Some would set the table, others would peel the potatoes and prepare the vegetables, and the roast would be put in the oven by my mom. Sunday dinner was the most important meal of the week. Do you remember such a meal in your home? I think today the Sunday family gathering and dinner has been set aside for individual pursuits. Back in my youth, it was a time for family to be together and to celebrate the blessings we were given by God.
God had a central part in our lives growing up. We never sat at a meal without saying a blessing before we ate. And on Sundays and other evenings during the week, we talked about our faith and what blessings we had been given by our Heavenly Father. At bedtime, we never went to bed without saying our prayers and asking God’s blessing on our brothers and sisters and mother and father even if we were upset with a sibling or a parent. And we did not say our prayers lying in bed; no, we said them on our knees beside our beds.
Now this may sound foolish or maybe you have heard me say it before, but I would sometimes wonder if I said my prayers and would climb out of my nice warm bed in winter more than once if I questioned that moment of time. I think I would still rather say my prayers kneeling beside my bed, but I am afraid at my age if I did so I might not be able to stand up. But let me tell you if I am doing some carpentry and have to kneel, I often say a prayer to God.
At night If I went into my parents room just before they went to bed, I would find that there were two pillows on the floor. Were my parent’s going to sleep on the floor? I wondered just for a moment, and then it would dawn upon me that my parents knelt together at night to say their prayers, and their pillows helped their kneeling.
Let there be no misunderstanding here. Religion was not drummed into us at every moment; it was just a part of our lives. And my father’s biblical knowledge kept our Christian faith ever in a progression of growth. My dad spoke often of stories from the Bible that he had been taught when he was growing up. So many times and in a wonderfully exciting way, we heard my dad telling the stories of Jonah and the whale, of David and Goliath, of Jesus and the teaching of the prodigal son. His stories were alive stories, and ones we carried away after listening to him. In simple ways, my dad and my mom built our faith into a living comforting and challenging manner.
One day when I was angry at my brother Bill for an unkindness he had done to me, I called him a fool. My dad was nearby, and he said to me words from the Bible I have never forgotten. Jesus said, “Whoever calls his brother a fool is liable to the fires of hell.” Believe me, I never called my brother a fool again, but I must admit I found other suitable words.
Both my father and my mother would teach us how we should live and the kind of people we should be. Their lives were not just by words but by example.
My mother and I were very close when I was growing up,but she too emphasized a Christian way of life. I cherish that thought of my mom and I having a special relationship. At times, I felt my mom was my “buddy.” Not so, Ken, she was still my mother/teacher. One day, I was helping her make the beds. There were sometimes eight beds to make. There we were working together when we entered one of the bedrooms which was a terrible mess. We were not allowed messy rooms with my mother’s motto, “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.” Now I believed my mother and I were so close I could get away with making a statement about that messy room. So, I said, “Boy mom, this room is a hell of a mess. Big mistake. “Don’t you ever say a swear like that in front of your mother again.” Talk about being shot down – suddenly, Ken was humbled and was no longer a chum but a son that needed to be brought up correctly.
Truthfulness in our home was Godliness. God loved truthful people and did not respect the liar. Truly we were taught when you lied you could see it on a person’s face. A lie in our home was an abomination unto the Lord. It was never tolerated,and if you were caught telling an untruth you were severely punished with what was called “the bottom bopper.” It hung over the kitchen stove and that is where you wished it to remain. If you were caught in an untruth, with trembling you confessed or else if later found out, it was the bottom bopper. Sometimes what it hurt was not your bottom but the shamefulness of the action. My dad would always say he felt worse giving the punishment. What was true was that it did hurt him more than the offender for he had in some way failed in his Christian teachings.
It is amazing to me today to see how many people can lie and never let it bother them. There is lying that takes place in all areas of our lives and right now, especially in an election year. Who is telling the truth to us, and who is a liar?
We need to bring back the teachings of our Christian faith. We need to teach our children and grandchildren the old Bible stories of truth and have them point out what is a valuable way of life. How much we need a new generation that holds fast to truth, honor and kindness, and yes, even discipline. We need to say our prayers often, and we need to ask for God’s guidance for our children, for our country, and for our world. I want so much to see a dark time in our history leading to a time of light and honor. May we be disciplined to a new dependence and respect for Almighty God. Let us teach this to each other and to the children who follow in our way.
I hope today you are going to be blessed with an old-fashioned Sunday dinner and a life which expresses gratitude to God for all “his benefits toward us.”
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”