The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Treasure From My Past: My Great Grandfather's Sermon Texts


There is joy in the midst of grief at times. God finds ways to buoy our spirits. This often happens through the actions and words of other people. Several people made that happen for me. My mother, now gone on to new life with God for almost a year, saved for me her grandfather's sermons, which he kept in a small binder, some sermons neatly typed and others written in his own hand. My father passed that long saved treasure trove on to me yesterday.

It has been wonderful to read the sermon texts (in outline form and more fleshed out in some cases) and discover that my great grandfather, Martin Luther Hall,  and I share more in common theologically than I had imagined. We not only share a midlife call to ministry (I once thought that was a deeply mysterious and perhaps suspicious aspect of the man's life ... a man once a cowboy who came back to West Virginia to be a circuit preacher ... now I know better) but also an emphasis on the work we are to do in this world to bring peace and justice for others. It has lifted my spirits after suffering the passing to new life of my grandmother, following Mom, less than a year later. Those were two cruel blows ... followed by this wonderful kindness.

I'm going to excerpt two small passages I discovered in a first search of this wonderful notebook. We'll start with reflections on old age from a sermon entitled The Crown of Glory, based on the text Prov. 16:31. It was delivered in both a church in Sabraton and Goshen, WV on August 21, 1938. This portion of the sermon explores old age and is in note format, which I will repeat. You can flesh out what is shown here with your own experience:

III.

Old Age.
1. It is just as much a part of life as childhood and youth.
(1) Life to the aged is sweet as ever.
(2) Age is no mark of shame.
(a) The hoary head only adds a crown of glory.
(b) In age one should say with Browning, "Grow old along with me."
(c) Youth is just the half of life. Age should complete it.
2. Age does not make one impotent.
(a) Contributions of men of age to the world's art, literature, science, etc.
3. Age not in the way of righteousness shows a life
(1) Misspent;
(2) Lacking wisdom;
(3) And it shows that the individual is a victim of his fears.

That last sentence, point 3 (3), resonates with me well! I'd add women to that, but I'm sure M.L. Hall was using "men" in the older, larger sense ... like the royal "we."

Here are a few excerpts from the sermon The Man at Fortune's Wheel, Matthew 6:33.

Life is not a chance and haphazzard existence. From the atom of oxygen in the ocean's depth to the molecule in the granite boulder of the mountain and from the tiniest insect that floats in the sunbeam to man in the image of his creator, the universe is goverened by the immutable law of God.
There are three ways of finding one's self: (1) feeling a strong inclination for some particular kind of work, (2) consult your friends, (3) "Doubt of any sort cannot be removed except by action, ... Do the duty that liest nearest you that you know to be duty! The second duty will already have become clearer."
I'll return t this wonderful gift passed down through the generations again later. Again, that last sentence matches my sentiments well. Doubt removed by action. I like that!



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