thinking about my Father


Every morning I get up and do a few dishes while I wait for my coffee water to boil. I usually clean my Grandfather’s fishing knife which I use daily. As I was putting it back in the drawer this morning, I knicked myself. Nothing serious, just a surface cut. But I found it ironic that my Father’s Father’s knife left me a little wound. Like the small grief which I carry for both men.

I had some leisure time yesterday combined with fatigue. I ran across some of my Father’s files. He kept reams of files during his life. Files of sermons, resources for sermons and ministry, bills, you name it.

I preserved as many as I could.

I sat and browsed his files yesterday.

It’s funny how present my dead Father is in my life. His ashes are actually sitting on my front porch. My Mom was (is) in no state to decide what to do with them. I figure if she precedes me in death (as is likely) I will probably inter her and my Dad at the same time.

Anyway, reading your dead Father’s sermons must be a bit like reading your live Father’s blog. Most of what he says in his sermons is centered on his concern to help people with their spiritual life. This doesn’t interest me much. But I read them over looking for the good parts. Parts which reveal him. Parts which talk about the family.

I’m not sure what to do with all these sermons. Most of them could probably be thrown away and no one would miss them. I remember my Father’s Father also left a ton of sermons behind. Most are gone now I believe. I have a few stuck away waiting to be organized.

But I am interested when I find little gems in them.

In a sermon dated September 17, 1967 and titled “Lest We Worship the Family,” I find this story.

“I have chuckled many times over the experience which I had in Israel ┬áthis past July. We stopped our touring bus to visit a camp of Arabs. About four of us, Ernie Walters and I,plus some others, made our way up a dusty dirt road to the smelly tent on the hillside, while the rest of the party stayed in the bus. We walked into the camp, and two women met us giggling and laughing. We began taking pictures, and the giggling women cried, “Haram, Haram.” They gestured toward their tent, and peering inside we saw an old Arab sitting before a fire on which he was boiling bitter Turkish coffee.

‘Haram?’ I tried to understand.

‘Oh, Harem…family…you are his family.’

The women giggled some more and kept gesturing to the old men, so I went in and sat down to sip some coffee with him. I made a mental note to ask our guide about the word, and after a bit we returned to our bus.

As the bus started again, I asked Elijah our guide, what “Haram’ meant. Puzzled, he looked at me and said, “Haram? That means sin.” And as I explained what happened, he began to chuckle. In taking pictures of the women, I was sinning against the family. As a tourist, I could take the pictures and put the old man’s women in my pocket.”

I can remember hearing my Dad tell this story many times.

I have an 8:30 class and I’m running out time to blog. Maybe I’ll use my blog to preserve or at least share with any reader some of the little stories I find in my Father’s sermons.

2 thoughts on “thinking about my Father

  1. What you have thereof Dad’s sermons are, if I’m not mistaken, the results of my having taken a number of days to sit and read through 30+ years of his work. I tried to sift out those sermons that had family or personal stories in them. I found doing so to be, at times, cathartic and, and other points, ennervating.

    If you decide you don’t want them, let me know. Maybe, when I retire, I can take some time and scan them into the computer. I can’t imagine keeping them forever but, if I did a good job of sorting, most of them should have some interesting passages (at least they must have been to me otherwise I would have pitched them).

    And, at least for me, Dad is present in my daily life for good and ill… Sometimes just looking in the mirror can be a real trip.

  2. Will definitely let people know before I toss out any family stuff. Not too likely this will happen. I also have ideas about organizing this material. At least the hard copies.

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