Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Faith Of Our Fathers

From left: me, Grandpa Hawley, Dave

I often speak to my students about the importance of their parents. Soon in my Gospels classes, we will speak of the Prodigal Son and his father who represents God. I originally posted this entry on January 3, 2006. Each day I realize how much I learned from my own father, not the least of which was his love for the Lord. The chorus for the hymn this entry was named after is as follow:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith;
We will be true to thee 'til death.

My father fulfilled the vow in those words by Frederick Faber. I pray I can as well. This is for you, Dad.

Several years ago, Dad found a cassette of his father speaking at a preachers' retreat. The year was 1970 and the state was Michigan. The sound quality was poor. A friend of Dad's converted the tape to a CD with complete recovery of the audio. While on my Christmas break at my folks' home in St. Louis, I sat down for forty minutes and listened to a voice from my past. My grandfather, Harold Hawley, was an educator and a minister of the gospel. He was as precise with the English language as any man I've ever met, due to his years in the pulpit and as a high school debate coach. Truthfully, the topic he covered in that lesson- Tensions Within the Preacher's Family- really had no application to me. I listened to it simply because I wanted to hear my grandpa's voice. Grandpa Hawley died in 1976 and as time passes, memories get hazier. It all came back. As I listened to Grandpa discourse on life as a preacher, his voice reminded me more of my dad's brother, Monroe, than of my father. He was eloquent in a kind and humble manner. At the time this recording was made, Grandpa Hawley was the same age my dad is now .....but I remember him as much older. After Grandma Hawley died, Grandpa came to live with us in Nebraska and then went along as my parents moved to Texas. He had suffered a stroke by then and it hurt me to talk to him. You knew he knew EXACTLY and PRECISELY what he wanted to say but the words which once flowed so formally from him had run dry. He died shortly afterwards.

Over the years, I have been blessed to participate in a number of weddings as a minister, all involving my players, sisters of my players, or my assistant coach. Personal weddings are my favorites and when there is a team connection, you can unearth a mountain of memories. During the first part, I talk about the bride and groom and what they mean to me, as well as their families. The second part, of course, is the vows. The past two ceremonies (Russell and Shara Carr, Brian and Becca Edge) have been very special. As we sat down to discuss their big day, (always at IHOP!) I showed samples of vows to get their input. Some couples like to pen their own and some leave it up to the minister. To my elation, both couples chose the vows Grandpa Hawley had written himself and used as he preached my parents' wedding on Christmas Day, 1949. Talk about deja vu- it's almost like I am performing Mom and Dad's ceremony! The language is flowery, King James type of English, plucked from another time period when speech was an art form. The reaction is always the same as I greet people during the reception. "That's the way a wedding is supposed to sound!" And the way it sounds is the way my grandfather sounded.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers."
Lewis Mumford

*To listen to Faith Of Our Fathers, please click or copy and paste link below!

God bless,
Steve (# 3 grandchild of Harold E. and Minnie Petersen Hawley)
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at


Jon said...

that very cool coach

Devin Turner said...

It's cool that you can Hear your father on cassette i hate to hear myself and i have to do a world geography project wear i interview someone on tape huh scary!!