Carlyle Roth had a retirement celebration yesterday. I could not be there but wrote a poem that I hope he will read in the spirit it is offered. Carlyle is one of the old timers. I have a kaleidoscope of memories that I wish I could put together coherently. He left a celebration at one of the really rural churches a few years back on his motorcycle and one of the kids asked him to do a wheelie which he did. Roaring down one of the few gravel roads that made up the town on one wheel like “Easy Rider” caused some “tut tutting” around the fruit salad at the dinner that was held in the church yard. He has been at St. Marks in Minot for years and that was the church that I believe was started by my old vicarage supervisor Lee Wendland. Many of my relatives attended St. Marks during the Wendland years and Carlyle had a relationship with my old Pastor who confirmed me years ago. We had a lot of connections together and spent some great time fishing and hunting. Someday I will have to define what I mean by the old breed of Pastor but for now here is the poem I wrote in his honor.
Ode to a Delivery Boy
I never thought too much about it one way or another, when a man becomes a pastor,
other pastors are called their brother.
Usually they say it kindly and with a little bit of pride, and sometimes they say it
meanly as if they are being snide.
Sometimes it’s spoken softly and with a consoling touch, and sometimes it’s spoken
automatic like, just as I do. We don’t think about it much.
Sometimes it’s an exclamation that shows annoyance or surprise, and it speaks of
exasperation with the widening of the eyes.
It seems to be a linguistic staple in a world that seems to smother. And we look
around in a helpless funk and mutter, “oh brother”!
And yet when the troubles come and tribulations make us shutter there are those who
much appreciate the coming of the brother.
There are those who in the gathering dark leave the comfort of their table, to find
a lonely farmstead and console as they are able,
the sick or sorrowing or hurting or those who suffer strife or just to speak a word
to those worn down by the chaos of life.
Some in the dark of the winter when the stars themselves seem froze, maneuver
the icy prairies while in their minds the prayers compose,
that can comfort the brokenhearted who have lost a lifelong mate, or a child, or
parent, and the world tells them that it’s fate.
Their job is to stop that blasphemy and pay it out as a lie, and bolster those who
are troubled and those who are about to die.
It’s not there erudition or learning, or magnetic personality; not their looks or
righteous bearing that make them brother to me.
If the truth be told we are delivery boys, bearing gifts like the magi of old, and
though none might call us wise men, we are privileged to be bold.
We bear a gift that we can give to those who hate us, and to those who call us
friend, and the gift is very simple – we know what happens at the end.
We are stewards of a very public mystery that God wants us to reveal, and it is a
gift of life that forgives and renews and can eternally heal.
We deliver a love story that began before the world was born. We deliver a person,
a child in a manger born. We deliver a man on a bloody cross with a visage tattered
We deliver a lamb sacrificed and a resurrected King who God gave to us for
salvation, and with Him everything.
We know what happens in the end you see, my brothers, you and me. We know the why
and how and reason and the final act of victory.
The removal of our sin by the one who is also called our brother; His will to do the
Father’s will; that and nothing other.
We know of the Spirit who calls and gathers and sanctifies, and His witness to our
Savior and his constant strong supply.
We know the ending when the universe is rolled up like a scroll and the new heavens
and the new earth are the forgiven ones’ new home.
That is all the brothers have and all the brothers need. Delivery boys who would
like a farmer, generously scatter the seed.
We bring to life the babies sprinkling water on their heads. We speak new life in
forgiveness to those as good as dead.
We are waiters at a table where Christ Himself is the meal, and He gives himself
completely no matter how we feel.
So to one who made those journeys in the darkness before the dawn, who taught the
children God’s own Law and what is right and what is wrong;
to the ones who preach the Gospel and the release from that Law, to begin the
Spirit’s own business – the frozen heart to thaw.
To those I bring the reminder that Scripture speaks so truly, that someday we
delivery boys will say, “we’ve only done our duty”.
A “Band of Brothers” wrote the Bard who at Agincourt we hear, stood before a mighty
foe and laughed away their fear.
We band of brothers do the same before principalities and powers, and laugh to scorn
their awful mean, knowing we stand on a high tower.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God and Jesus Christ our Savior and we rest
in that eternal peace that God holds us in favor.
So on this day delivery boy, I join with many others, to declare to you before our
Lord; I’m proud to call you brother.