Author Archives: jrandolphclark

Nudges and Stumbles

Lately I have been writing (when I write at all) about DeMolay and not much about faith. If you’ve started following me recently then you may be surprised at today’s subject matter. This was a blog about faith before it was about anything else.

To be more accurate… it is a blog about me 🙂 – in the sense that it is about things I have discovered along the way. Some of these things are factual (I love mysteries and puzzles – answering questions and resolving unknowns). Some are truths I have learned or discovered.

This morning I woke at 3:21 AM. More accurately my insulin pump woke me with an alarm. Because I have struggled the last few days to keep that pump in its automatic mode, I woke to attend to it. And couldn’t find sleep again. So I glanced at my phone and the first thing that I saw was a post on Facebook about following God’s nudges by Marlena Graves. She is a writer and Christian leader for whom I have developed a deep respect and whose writing I find a continuing source of both spiritual nourishment and challenge.

Lately I have been struggling with some mistakes I’ve made… the nature of them is unimportant. But her words helped me disentangle mistakes made about certain things from the broader response of my life to what was clearly a nudge from God to take a fork in the road that led in a different direction. While I’ve doubted the choice from time to time, I have always come back to the reality that God pulled me down a path that I would have never pursued on my own. The path on which I walked was filled with certainty and comfort. This one – despite appearances to the contrary – is marked by doubt and risk in contrast.

I can’t give you a formula for knowing when God is nudging you. This is more than following your dreams. Nor is it taking control of your life. It is, rather, allowing God’s dream to take hold of you. It is surrendering to a journey you do not control and is risky and may not end well.

Abram (as he was then called) was on a journey with his father but then received the call to continue that journey. He made mistakes in answering that call – you and I will, too. But he went because he knew who had called and who had promised. The nudge was enough.

 

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DeMolay Centennial – First Executive Officer of Ohio

Our official, Ohio DeMolay lists includes a list of the Executive Officers of Ohio DeMolay. For those unfamiliar with DeMolay, the Executive Officer is the head adult leader in the state and represents the International Supreme Council. The first man listed is George Clark who began serving in 1926. He was not, however, the first!

In the November 1922 edition of The DeMolay Councilor, the following appears (with some errors I won’t go into here):

“NEW DEPUTIES APPOINTED
According to the announcement made last week by Frank S. Land, grand scribe
and national organizer, Charles Woodruff of Columbus, O., has been appointed
deputy DeMolay of the Scottish rites (SIC) in Ohio by Judge Alexander G.
Cochran of St. Louis. The appointment of Melvin M. Johnson as Massachusetts
deputy DeMolay also was announced.”

The next issue lists Charles Woodruff as a deputy member of the Grand Council.
(Thank you to Past State Master Councilor Pat King for this information).

Over the next two years, Woodruff’s name crops up in local newspapers as visiting the DeMolay chapters founded in the early years of the order in Ohio. Notes of a gathering in Toledo that would give birth to our Ohio State Council show him present and in charge.

One of the mysteries has been – what happened to Dad Woodruff? I came across the newspaper article clipped herethat answers the question. By 1930 Dad Woodruff had passed due, presumably, to his illness that led to his resignation in 1924.

He was a member of York Lodge # 563 and later a charter member of Kinsman Lodge # 617 which he served as Master in 1915. He was according to records of the Grand Lodge active in central Ohio Masonic activities for much of the late 19-teens’ and into the early 20’s. What else he may have done Masonically is not recorded in anything I have found.

I have been working on his history and will have more in next week’s post about the history of the Grand Lodge of Ohio’s position on DeMolay (I did a presentation on this at the recent Ohio Allied Masonic Degrees Ingathering in Columbus).

 

One of the lingering questions is… what happened between 1924 when Dad Woodruff resigned and 1926 when Dad George Clark took the helm?

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DeMolay Centennial – First Ohio State Master Councilor

I am REALLY  behind already on my weekly DeMolay Centennial posts… I have a couple that are still drafts and need to get posted.  Here’s the first.

With the Ohio DeMolay Conclave recently concluded, Conclave (what DeMolays call their annual statewide meeting) is on my mind. One of the highlights of this gathering is the installation of the State Master Councilor. What about those who served in those early years of DeMolay here in Ohio (when DeMolay itself was only a few years old).

The second State Master Councilor of Ohio was Gordon Scherer from Cincinnati. Brother Scherer was a well-known Cincinnati politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives starting in the 1950’s. But what about the first one? His name appears on the list of State Master Councilors but what do we know about him? I searched through newspaper archives and genealogical sites to piece together a little bit on our first Ohio State Master Councilor.

His given name was Adelbert W. Savage. The 1910 Census shows him as the youngest of four brothers living in Elyria with their parents George and Martha.  His mother died in 1917 when Brother Dell was only 10 years old. Brother Dell Savage was from Elyria, Ohio, and served as State Master Councilor for 1925-1926. Hailing from Elyria, he was a member of David J. Nye Chapter.  A search of period newspapers reveals his name and that second Conclave held at Indian Lake on Orchard Island. The first was held in Elyria in 1925.

Searching for his name in newspapers pops up several DeMolay references! The March 31, 1926, Lima News and Times-Democrat reports him present in Kenton, Ohio, for the initiation of 20 new members into Kenton Chapter.

Dell was clearly a leader in his high school. A yearbook from 1923 has him attending a statewide YMCA leadership conference with other boys from his school. The local newspaper in 1924 has an article by him about the high school football team. in 1930 he is still in Elyria and is listed in the census as a student.

In 193

He married Loraine Davis on Christmas Day in 1945, probably on his return from the Second World War. He was a major in the United States Army during the war, serving in the Transportation Corps.  His obituary in the Elyria newspaper says he had lived in both Washington. D.C., and Elyria until moving to Florida in 1957. He died in Florida in 1969. His obituary says he was active in his local Presbyterian Church where he had been an elder.

I would love to learn more about this first leader of Ohio DeMolay. Hopefully at some point there will be an update to this post that I can share.

 

 

 

 

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DeMolay Centennial – Degree of Chevalier

Today Dana and I drove to Columbus to witness one of our son’s DeMolay Brothers receive the Degree of Chevalier. Because of a last minute illness I was also privileged to participate in the ceremony. As you know if you read my Facebook posts, later this year our son will experience the same ceremony and honor.  The Degree of Chevalier is the highest honor an active DeMolay may receive. Senior DeMolays are also eligible for nomination.

The honor as DeMolay now confers it began in 1936. The word “chevalier” at its simplest means “knight” and was intended always to not only recognize DeMolay service but also to be a consecration to further service. A knighthood conferred upon young men who would then engage in battle for right and good in their lives and careers and public lives.

Dad Frank Land wrote the words to this moving ceremony himself. If you listen to it you will find it has a different cadence, a special feel that distinguishes it from the other DeMolay ceremonies both public and private.  The ceremony rededicates its recipients to the core values of DeMolay – love of God, love of home, and love of country.

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DeMolay Centennial – Sunday, July 1, 2018

Last Saturday night began the DeMolay Centennial – a year of celebration and remembering.  One hundred years of changed lives. One hundred years of life-long friendships. One hundred years of fraternity.

DeMolay certainly changed the course of my life. I met my wife because of DeMolay. Freemasonry came into my life because of it.  I have friends who are more like family because of the bonds we formed in DeMolay over the years since 1980 that it has been my privilege to be connected to DeMolay.

My goal is to post something each Sunday related to DeMolay for an entire year. There is more than enough history and experience to fill those Sundays.

If you don’t know about DeMolay and its history, take a look here:

https://demolay.org/history/

And as things are added you see information on the centennial as well:

https://demolay.org/centennial-home/

 

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In the midst of life we are in death

In the midst of life we are in death

 

I have spoken these words at every funeral at which I have officiated over 25+ years.  The words are likely from a hymn originating in France around 750 AD.  As long as I can remember they have been part of the suggested graveside service in The United Methodist Book of Worship 

They came to mind over the weekend. Late Saturday evening I had a series of text messages telling me that a Masonic Brother died suddenly at age 43. I did not know him well but had come to know him over the last few years. He had become a Scottish Rite officer only a few months ago and I looked forward to years more of friendship and service. Some stories do not end where we imagined they would.

At first hearing these beautiful words are quite sobering. We are in life and then confronted, sometimes as here suddenly and tragically, by death. It comes we know not when. It seems, at times, to come with neither rhyme nor reason. If human biology is the sum of our existence – if the last beat of our hearts is the last of us – this may be a cry of despair.  It is an observation of the universality and finality of death.

But these words are in truth an affirmation, even words of praise. Death is in truth an episode in life and not its end.  It comes in the mist of life – if you will in the middle. There is more on the other side of it. Much more.

In his marvelous reflection on the resurrection, Paul writes:

 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15:55-57  NIV)

Paul is actually quoting the prophet Hosea in the first bit where God promises to deliver from the power of the grave. If the grave is the end its power to overshadow life is immeasurable. If it is a door to more life on the side? Its power is real but temporary, its shadow dark but only for a passing moment.

I need to hear these words today when a 43-year old man with young sons and a grieving wife finds himself in the midst of death. In Christ there is a victory even in a moment of tragic death. And not just for Larry… but for us who remain to bear its grief and puzzle over its meaning.

 

“For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure
but a doorway from a wold where dreams and adventures shrink,
to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.”

― Randy Alcorn, Heaven

 

 

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Masonic Thought – Week of 4/30/2018

Freemasonry has endured not because of its antiquity, its influence, or its social standing, but because there have been so many who have lived it. The effectiveness of Masonic teachings will always be the measure by which the outside world judges Freemasonry; the proof of Freemasonry is in our deeds and it is in our deeds that Freemasonry is made known to non-Masons. The only way that the Craft can be judged is by its product. The prestige of Freemasonry lies squarely on the shoulders of each of us.

– Bro. G. Wilbur Best

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Easter 2018

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Matthew 28:6-7 NIV

 

We who celebrate today (and next week in the Eastern Church) celebrate not that Jesus is alive but that he is risen.  That the tomb is empty – not that Jesus lives eternally. That Jesus appeared several times and in several ways including, of all the odd facts, eating fish with his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

In the years I have followed Christ I have had many doubts. I have wondered about many things. Curiously the physical, real resurrection of Jesus from the dead has remained one of the things that I haven’t doubted or questioned much if at all.

Jesus has gone where we must all go. Jesus has experienced what every human I know has and will know – the end of life. His death is as real as that of every person I have loved who has gone. His resurrection is just as real – he has been raised from the grave. Not some spirit who ascended to heaven leaving earth behind. Not a ghost who appears to comfort his grieving friends. He rose – his tomb was empty. Some days later this same Jesus ascends in his new body.

To say Jesus is risen is to place the locus of our faith in the present and not the future only. I am not just waiting for the sweet by-and-by. I live in the world, the reality where Jesus rose from his grave. A world where something changed. There is no going back to the shadows. There is no undoing of the undoing of his death.

A bit of the future has leaked into the present if you will. The resurrection of the dead that we proclaim in the creeds has started. Only one so far. But not the end or only one ever. Not a solitary resurrection but a prologue of what is to come. A promise of what will break forth. A new heaven and a new earth John saw (Revelation 21:1). Not just heaven.

This all matters because the reality of the resurrection is not only for the graveside. It is for the breakfast table and the office chair and the checkout line at the grocery. To live in a world where Jesus rose is to live a risen life in that world. Jesus is risen. Now he invites us to go and do likewise. I am not always sure what that means. But I am sure it is so.

 

 

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Good Friday 2018

Gasping out his last breath. Calling out for help. Alone. In pain. Suffering at the last instead of peace.

Not the kind of death we want for ourselves or those whom we love.  Over the decades that I was a pastor I was with many people in their last days, hours, even moments. Almost to a person they died peacefully. Beautifully even. Surrounded by friends and family in many cases they breathed their last breath of earth.

Good Friday is a day that will not let us sanitize either death or suffering. It will not let us think that every death is like the ones I witnessed over those years. Jesus’ death was not so.

Those opening words above were not just about Jesus – they were about my dad. I had never thought until I woke this morning about my dad’s death in the shadow of Good Friday. But he died alone. And his death was unpleasant and unthinkable from all we can tell. It still haunts me. As does – and should – the death of Jesus on that long ago Friday.

Today is a day to be uncomfortable. To remember there is pain in the world. To remember that not all deaths are peaceful transitions. Not all passings are easy. Not everyone’s earthly journey ends as it should or might.

Jesus’ death changed everything. But it changed nothing. Something to ponder today.

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Masonic Quote of the Week – 3/19/2018

Yesterday was the 99th anniversary of the founding of the Order of DeMolay and the 704th anniversary of the death of Jacques DeMolay. Rather than post a quote I share this video of an interview with Dad Frank S. Land and President Harry S. Truman:

 

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