Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What In the World Does An 82 Year-Old Codger Do Anyhow?

August 5, 2015
Definition: codger - used affectionately to refer to an eccentric but amusing old man

I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am. --- Francis Bacon

In youth we run into difficulties. In old age difficulties run into us. --- Beverly Sills

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you're aboard, there's nothing you can do. --- Golda Meir

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. --- Victor Hugo

There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age. --- Bill Bryson

Yes, today's the day -- I confess that 82 years ago today on August 5, 1933 a son was born to Russell and Helen (Sedgwick) Harriger in a farmhouse located in Monroe Township, Clarion County, Pennsylvania.

Time moves swiftly although in those younger years we complained when time did not move fast enough, especially as Christmas approached. And Christmas Eve? Longest night of the entire year according to those just getting started in life!

Enough digression -- getting to the question as to what an 82 year-old codger (that is I) does anyhow with all his time on a day by day basis?

My retirement "officially" began in July 1996 after 37 years as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I started out in the former Methodist Church in 1959 under appointment to serve 2 Methodist Churches in New Castle PA.

For a short time after retirement I filled in for pastors vacationing etc. Then in fall of 1999 I received a call from a member of the congregation of Gipsy Christian Church in Gipsy PA, which is about 27 miles northwest of where we live in the Belsano PA area. After meeting with the folks I agreed to become their pastor on a part time basis. A United Methodist pastor in the area whom I knew quite well upon hearing I would be working with the Gipsy congregation told me I wouldn't last 6 months there! Still uncertain as to whether it was my reputation or the church's or a mix of both as to why he made that prediction. As of today we are moving toward 16 years of service (come November) to the Gipsy Christian Church congregation. So I preach each Sunday and do other pastoral responsibilities as need arises such as hospital visits, conduct funerals, etc.

Now then -- what other things am I involved in? I have had a web site, Circuit Rider's Range, since 1998 and a few years later started a BLOG to which comments on issues are added regularly. Address to web site is on right hand margin of the BLOG plus links to various areas of the web site. There are a lot of pages on this dealing with various subjects plus an area for humor which is titled the Humor Hut! One of my favorites at this page is an incident that is alleged to have really happened over in the Middle East. The Iranians contacted a U.S. aircraft and demanded that the pilot identify himself and the aircraft because it was claimed that he was in Iranian airspace. He said he was in Iraqi airspace. They were impatient demanding that a complete identification be made immediately or they were sending up interceptor aircraft! Pilot responded by saying, "This is United States Marine Corps fighter aircraft F-(whatever number it was)." -- then he added, "Send 'em up -- I'll wait!" Those who had listened on this conversation said there was silence after the pilot told the Iranians he would wait!

I have for years been contacting members of the U.S. Congress, the president, ambassadors, etc. about critical issues affecting our nation and our world. To the members of the Congress I send a copy of the letter which is sent to the president on a regular basis. Copy of that is available if you want to see what it is about -- just go to main page of Circuit Rider's Range, scroll down a ways and see where the link to the letter to the president is. The contacting is done by FAX which is faster and certainly much cheaper than by first class letter since there are well over 500 members of Congress alone! This has not just been a one time contact thing -- I start over the list again after the last state, doing it alphabetically.

I also do a little volunteer work at Fallingwater, the unusual home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family which owned a prosperous department store in Pittsburgh many years ago. The home is now owned and maintained by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy group. I go down about twice a month to help out a bit. My present position is that of Ask Me Guide. When people ask what I do I just say, "I tell people where to go!"

And of course there are things about our home and property that need attention time after time. Lately we've been waging war on grass and weeds growing in the driveway. And a new layer of shale will be added in the near future, so my 3-wheeled wheelbarrow and I will be busy doing the shale thing!

For relaxing time, which isn't always that, depending on the internet, I am involved in the game called Farmtown. It is about farming and since I grew up on a farm, this at least takes me back in memory to those earlier years spent on a farm. But there is a lot of interaction with other players and I have made friends through this activity not only in the states but in many foreign countries as well.

So, now you know what this 82 year-old codger does some of the time at least. God has been gracious over the years and I have been wonderfully blessed far more that I certainly deserve! I have a faithful wife who has stood by my side in the best of times as well as the worst of times and there have been some of those too.

And now a bit of brag in closing -- well, its not so much brag as it is plain fact! God called me to preach and teach His Word back in 1958 -- I got started in June of 1959! During these years I have had the privilege of serving a total of 12 congregations, which includes Gipsy at the present time. I am probably close to the top as being a pastor who has preached more sermons than about any other pastor in the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church! At Polk Charge 3 times every Sunday plus Bible Studies during the week for 7 years. At Belsano, 4 times every Sunday for 6 years plus Bible Studies each week. And from 1979 until retirement in 1996 did preaching 3 times every Sunday. On top of this there were times through the years I did evangelistic services a week or more at a time in other churches.

This 82 year-old codger intends to keep going so long as God gives him breath and strength to do so -- a rocking chair twiddling-the-thumbs existence is not for me!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. [Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)].