It is pleasure to be here to day to remember my father, Rev. Auburn Jewett Carr; A. B., A.M., S.T.B; and my own childhood memories of his Green Mountain Parish.
Perhaps this scripture gave my father the strength and courage to undertake a parish of six country churches in 1943, the middle of World War II.
In his "DEVOTIONAL PSALM MEDITATIONS" he wrote:
"My mother, a Hardwick,VT farmer’s wife, used to write a verse from the Bible each day in her diary. She made or wrote no comment on it. My brother, Elmer, once said that this practice enabled her to survive and keep going.
The hills declare the way of God. They form the scenery of memory and imagination. They structure the ascent and upward trend of experience. In childhood, wonder and mystery arises as to what lies beyond the horizons of the hills and mountains. In village, valley, field, and city, they provide the upward look."
My first memory of mountain poetry was the verse from the hymn
One of the gifts of my growing-up was being able to understand the sermon. I can remember Rev. Viola Moore’s sermon in 1943, when I was eight, and thinking to myself that she was a better preacher than her husband, Rev. Robert Moore. (I am embarrassed to say this, as my father said: "Comparisons are odious.") The Moores were the first associate pastors of the Green Mountain Parish. They arrived with their adopted son, Henry, who was about my age and not the easiest for me to get along with.
The Green Mountain parish started in 1943, in the middle of World War II. Dad would corresponded with our men in the military service. This was the basis of his newspaper column: COMMUNICATION FROM THE HOMEFRONT in Richford’s Journal-Gazette. He wanted to extend this involvement by becoming a chaplain in the military. When the District Superintendent could not afford to lose him due to the minister shortage, Dad founded the Green Mountain Parish. This consisted of six churches: Methodist in Richford and Montgomery; Congregational in Enosburgh Center, Berkshire Center, and East Berkshire; and Baptist in Montgomery Center. The last was a mill-town before the Jay Peak Ski Area was developed. Preaching at three services was ambitious, as I learned from the few times that Audrey and I were taken to all three services on one Sunday. It was good that there were no radar speed-detectors in those days. Dad would sometime set speed records on the dirt roads so as not to be late for the next service. This might have been his inspiration for the following story he liked to tell.
Saturday evening there had been a severe ice storm. On Sunday morning, the roads were so glazed with ice that the pastor skated to church. The church service went smoothly. However, after church, the Elders held a meeting to deal with the problem that skating was forbidden on Sunday. In those days, one could only to go to church and to read the Bible on Sunday. It was a real dilemma, as the minister would not have made it to church on time without skating. Finally, one of the elders, asked the minister the key question:
To this Fern Replied: "Why you come right up here!"
I am sure that that Dad got a much better meal then he would have had at a restaurant. Some of the best food that I ever ate was at Lloyd Chafee’s farm, where I worked in his sugar-bush during my spring school vacation.
Rev. Leighton R. Richardson was our next Associate Pastor. He had a
special gift for leading Boy Scout Troops, of which I was an enthusiastic
member. One of my regrets on leaving Richford in 1949 to attend Boston
Latin School was that I was no longer a member of his Boy Scout Troop.
I returned the next summer to Richford and spent time canoeing on Lake
Carmi and climbing the Pinnacle. I wrote the following mountain poetry
as an English assignment to write a sonnet.
During these Green-Mountain-Parish years, my mother, Sylvia Holzer Carr, was very active as the Supervisor of Music in the Richford Schools, as an organizer and director of church musical variety shows and minstrels, and as the director of the Richford Methodist Church Choirs. My first memory of Handel’s Messiah with its magnificent "Hallelujah Chorus" was the performance she directed at our Methodist Church in Richford. I have since heard the same Handel’s Messiah flawlessly performed in Boston’s Symphony Hall. There is nevertheless something very special about performances of these great works by communities of faith, those who really believe and live out what they are singing.
Our Psalm 121 continues: "He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."
Dad’s interpretation: "What happens to the nation in which I live and where I am an citizen constitutes a big factor in my life. More and more the condition of my country involves its relation to all nations. This brings the recognition that the entire course of history can be understood as the Kingdom of God. He keeps wide awake to the whole situation of each individual and of all individuals. They can be truly understood only in relation to him.
At no time does the call to him not register. He is neither ignorant of nor unresponsive to any and all who turn to him. He is neither ‘asleep on the job’ or ‘asleep on the switch.’ Everyone has access to his ‘hot line.’"
God’s presence and love is always there for us, no matter what happens.
"He who keeps Israel" reminds me how inspired Dad was when he returned from his pilgrimage to Israel in 1959. Having visited there myself last March, I had an opportunity to see why. Dad was particularly inspired by the Lake of Galilee and its environs, which was the scene of Jesus’ ministry. The Lake of Galilee is surrounded by mountains like most of our lakes in Vermont. In fact, "Galilee" comes from a Hebrew word which means "waves." The mountain ranges and valleys of Galilee can be visualized as "waves" of land mass. Winds can flow unimpeded along these valleys, and are the cause of sudden storms which today come up on the Lake of Galilee, as they did in the time of Jesus. The mountains of Galilee are mostly rounded like the Pinnacle and other mountains in Vermont. Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, is on a mountainside. Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum on the See of Galilee, where he healed Peter’s mother-in-law and preached in the synagogue. At the Mount of the Beatitudes near Capernaum, I could envision Jesus teaching the crowds from the steep hillsides that form a natural amphitheater above the lake. As I saw abundant fields of yellow mustard blowing in the wind, I could hear Jesus saying (Math. 6:28:) "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." The climax of our Pilgrimage was a communion service held among the blooming flowers and shrubs of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, which is a beautiful setting for the resurrection stories we commemorate at Easter. The Bible Stories seemed more real than they ever did before.
It has been a pleasure sharing with you my childhood impressions and boyhood memories of the Green Mountain Parish. It may be appropriate to conclude with these words of Paul (I Cor. 13:11-12):
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood."
Thank you God for all the things you have given us. We thank you God for the gift of life itself with its abundance which overflows in the summertime. Thank you for the gift of family, friends, and for taking care of our needs.
Thank you God for the things and the loved ones that we no longer have with us. As we meditate on the bareness of winter, we are thankful for the enrichment and fulfillment of having had them. As Paul said: (II Cor.7:2)
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies."
Thank you God for all the things we still have with us.
May we live fully in the present and savor each moment of our lives. May we fully participate in that which is eternal, the "eternal now." AMEN