A Word From Bishop Bryan: The Shoulders Upon Which We Stand

6/16/2017

Generations of laity and clergy have used William Barclay’s commentary on the Bible known as “Daily Bible Studies.” Several years ago I read Barclay’s autobiography and was struck by these words: “If I have been privileged to go farther in life than others and if I have been able to gain a greater vision of life than others it is because I am standing on the shoulders of my parents.” 
 
Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a good time to reflect on the shoulders upon which we are standing. From the grandfather who helped raise me to our grandson who was born three weeks ago, I am reminded that we are connected from generation to generation by the family members who have loved and supported us.
 
In addition to biological family, many of us, myself included, can name lots of church members who have been spiritual fathers and mothers to us.
 
Thanks be to God for all the shoulders on which you and I are standing.
 
Over the years I have accumulated several quotes from fathers, though I do not always have the name of the author. One father offered this invitation: 
 
“Why don’t you sit down and write a letter to your mother or father and tell them how grateful you are for them? I’ll tell you one thing, they will read it over and over again. And when they die and you’re going through their things, you’ll find that letter tucked away in their most treasured possessions. Do it, rather than saying I wish that I had. And if your parents are not living, give them honor and thank God for their memory.”
 
Such a letter would be even more significant in today’s world because handwritten letters are increasingly rare. What a treasure for a parent to receive.
 
Another father gave this personal testimony:

“If I had it to do all over again, I’d love my wife more in front of my children. I’d laugh with my children more. I’d listen more, even to the youngest child. I’d be more honest about my own weaknesses and stop pretending perfection. I would pray differently for my children. I would be more encouraging and bestow more praise. And finally, if I had it to do all over again, I would use every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day to point them to God.”

It is a great blessing to have shoulders on which to stand. Through our local church we can pass on that blessing by offering our shoulders to others.