I never had the privilege of meeting my grandfather, he passed away before I was born. Based on family stories, it is my loss that this meeting never happened. He was an Aussie who moved his family to the States. He pastored churches in Mason City, IA and El Paso, TX. The portrait taken on the left was from the family home in Iowa in 1948.
Some of my greatest treasures are his books which have been passed on to me. To this day, I can open one of them and find an old bookmark, old postcard, note, scribble, bits of trash, flattened leaves, even old sermons. One day several years ago, a decent sized sheet of paper fell out of one his books. I have no idea when the document was written. The yellow paper carries ink from an old fountain pen. You know the type, when the ink runs dry the sharp tip digs into the paper. Of the 427 words handwritten on the note there is only one scribble, if it can even be called that, and one misspelled word. We just don’t possess these kinds of handwriting skills today. Albeit blurry, this picture shows how cool and special this treasure is.
What is more important to the person who wrote it, the possible date of writing, and the difficulty in reading the scrawl, is the nature of the note. It was written at the end of a calendar year for a meeting of some sort to remember the past and think about the future. It is a New Years Prayer. The language is King Jamesian, vocabulary is persuasive, and the structure poetic.
My sermon was all finished for today. Handout was done. Powerpoint presentation all locked up. Everything was all done, I was praying, and just chillin’ before time to leave the house. It has to be the Holy Spirit because I don’t recall things like this. Since the first Sunday of 2012 is the first of January, it seemed appropriate to find this prayer, refamiliarize myself with it, and see how pertinent it is to us today.
It is as if the words were written for Castle Rock Bible Church personally and specifically. From the portals of heaven, a significant member of the great cloud of witnesses spoke to us today. His prayer and blessing is indefatigable and irresistible. Here it is:
Everlasting God, as we pause on the threshold of time we are reminded of thy abiding presence and guiding hand throughout the year that is drawing to a close. In all our ways, in times of prosperity and adversity, in days of gladness and sorrow, in the hour of loss and partings, of abundance and in need, thou hast been a well proven help and a garrison of strength. As we look into the future, let no fears assail us. Help us to be as confident that thou wilt be with us in the future as we know thou hast been in the past. Thou canst equip us for the tasks and the duties that are ours, that we may do our utmost and quit ourselves like new.
May we who are pilgrims, conscious of life’s varying scenes, learn by faith, our Father, to obey thee.
We know that thou wilt lead us on through all the tomorrows as thou hast lead us through the yesterdays.
We know that thou wilt not let us go, even when we in willful neglect and indulgence, try to meander from thy way.
As we set our faces toward the New Year, we know full well that it will bring many changes. The old must give place to the new. Time does not stand still, nor will the world cease from turning. Wilt thou give to us the courage and fortitude of mature men and women that will enable us to stand upon our faith, as the spirit of the living Lord will give us strength.
May the convictions that we hold be the strongholds of our lives and in the time of trouble and stress demonstrate that we can be more than conquerors through Him who has loved us. Indeed may the days of the future teach us above everything else that neither death, nor life, nor things present nor things future, nor powers, nor any exalted thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We long for thy guidance for this congregation as it faces the new year under new leadership. God direct and indwell every effort that will be made to glorify and establish the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We thank thee for the ongoing witness that has been shared in thy name and for the promise of the master.
Lo I am with you always- Proper the cause of righteousness that thy name may be known among all nations. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Thank you for blessing us today Gramps! I can’t wait to meet you.