A “Sermon in Poetry” as given by Pastor Jack Hyles to his “people” at their annual Thanksgiving service on November 26, 1987. This poem is a description of Brother Hyles’ weekly schedule in Hammond, as he interacts with his “people.”
‘Tis very late on Sunday night.
To see the house, a welcome sight;
A friendly guard awaits me there,
Who holds my life within his care.
And when he thinks I’ve gone to bed,
He settles down and nods his head!
As angels guard us while we sleep,
We pray the Lord our souls to keep.
It all begins on Monday morn
When night travails and day is born.
I take a frisky little walk
From door to car, and share some talk
With a guard whom I just awoke,
Who shares with me a corny joke,
Or speaks a softened, “I love you,”
To raise my soul when day is new.
‘Tis his kind voice I firstly hear;
My day is christened by his cheer.
His very kind, “Did you rest well?”
Sure helps to make my spirits swell.
He’s overworked and underpaid;
Yet all night long he’s proudly stayed.
I realize at day’s begin,
He’s more than guard; he’s pal and friend.
I often, as I drive away,
Dread the coming of the day
When his brief college days will end,
And God will call away my friend
And send him to God’s chosen place,
Where he will preach God’s saving grace.
I’ll miss the cheerful, friendly guy
With whom I’ve shared so much shuteye.
I, through the rear view mirror view,
And realize as I do,
The one who guards me as I nod
Is really a great man of God.
Soon I arrive at parking place;
At my appointed little space,
I’m greeted by another guard
Who kindly, gently, tries so hard
To meet me in a pleasant way
To help me start another day.
We chitchat some, or share some joys,
Or grieve a loss by the Dallas Cowboys!
I trudge along the hallway floor,
Approaching my most hallowed door;
And just before I start my work,
I pause to think, “I LOVE THAT JERK”‘
I wonder how my day would be
Without a guard or two or three
To meet me at the crack of dawn,
To share with me a morning yawn.
I soon hear footsteps on the floor,
A gentle knock upon my door;
I realize it’s time to pray
With those I work with day by day.
My loyal staff comes to my place,
Where we approach the throne of grace;
Those with whom I’ve shared for years
Tons of joy and pecks of tears.
A little word, sometimes a joke,
With those who share with me my yoke.
Then we pause awhile to pray,
To seek God’s help for us today.
Some have shared my hopes and fears
For over twenty faithful years.
Still others more, and others less,
And yet they’re all to me the best!
They form a loyal working bunch!
Do you know what? I’ve got a hunch,
As deep as my poor soul can see,
That most of them would die for me!
Thank God for men who share the work,
Who never waiver, never shirk
The duties that are theirs to bear;
Thank God, they love me, and they care.
For those dear secretaries too,
Who quietly toil beyond folks’ view,
Who labor oft behind the scenes
For little praise and little means.
Too soon I have to say, “Good-bye,”
For I must board a plane to fly,
To preach in Holy Spirit power,
While passing through my one brief hour.
To serve my God as best I can,
To lift my voice, and raise my hand,
According to my Saviour’s plan,
To do my part to save our land.
Soon trip is o’er, and I return
To those for whom my heart doth yearn –
My people, God hath given me –
My church, my spiritual family!
‘Tis Wednesday my second favorite day,
When I can pack and wind my way
To those I serve and love the best –
My own dear church my haven nest!
A Santa Claus like mission man
Waits to drive me in a van;
He’s at the curb at old O’Hare,
To drive me to the ones who care.
And, on the way, we wisely share
Such spiritual talk about the Bears,
And Bulls, and Cubs, and Cowboys, too,
For our expert and honest view!
No big and little shots are we –
Just good old Larry and plain old me.
We folksy chat along the way,
And brighten up my busiest day.
Soon I arrive at College gates
Met by Chief Wolfe, who kindly waits.
A warm insult about my weight,
Or age, or hair, or shape await!
A warm handshake, a tear or two,
A “Howdy, Preach,” or “I love you.”
Then down the hall with quickened pace
To meet the guys who run the place.
Soon, there they are, a congenial pair –
A couple of guys who really care.
One is known for hating wrong,
The other for his “drop-kick song!”
They’re real big shots, but they don’t know!
They’re intellects, but it “don’t” show!
They’re humble men through and through,
And fit in like a warm old shoe!
A warm handshake, a smile or two,
And through the door that leads us to
The wildest bunch of Indians known,
A college where true love is shown!
We cheer and shout and love awhile,
While sharing one big heartfelt smile.
The family is home today –
Daddy’s back! He’s been away!
And then I look more to my left,
And see some characters bereft!
I hardly can believe my eyes –
A crazy bunch of Shiite guys!
From all across the land they’ve come
To make a dormitory home.
This love we feel is no mere whim;
They’re mine, ’cause I’ve adopted them!
A warm feeling settles in my breast,
A soothing peace, a loving rest,
‘Cause everyone of them I saw
Are my own kids, and I’m their paw!
I then walk from the chapel, where
I’ve shared real love and tender care!
I think, while walking out the door,
“I’m stronger than I was before!”
Now I’m walking toward the van;
I pass a young and loving man,
Who has a kind and gracious knack
Of putting love into a sack.
A note, a wave, a “Hi,” a smile
All help to minimize the trial –
That one, that I may have today
Now seems to be so far away!
Now back to church, but on the way
We pass a little time away
By stopping at McDonald’s place
To get a bite to feed the face.
Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, too,
And hot French Fries, not a few!
A few McNuggets surely can
Help me grow OUT to be a man!
Then stop awhile at Mother’s crypt,
To sing with stammering, faltering lips,
“Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from a world of care.”
“Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
Oh, they tell me of a home far away!
Oh, they tell me of a land where no storm clouds rise,
Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day!”
“Brighten the corner where you are;
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar,
If you brighten the corner
Where you are.”
To thank her for her sacrifice
That made my life a paradise;
Then read Psalm one-hundred three,
And thank my God that He loves me!
Now to the office for a while,
Met by a guard with happy smile!
I hear a dear staff member say,
“We missed you while you were away.”
Hot dog! Rah! Rah! I’m home at last!
It seems that days and weeks have passed!
I open my dear, sacred door,
And bow to knees and kiss the floor!
Something’s not like it was before;
Hey! Someone’s doctored up my door!
‘Twas done perhaps by loving teens,
For whom I hold a million dreams!
Perhaps it was the Blue Beret,
Who came to light their Preacher’s way,
Or loving City Baptist gals,
Or one of my dear bus kid pals.
Hark! I see fingers ‘neath the door
Push money right along the floor;
“I wuv you, Brover Howles,’ they say,
“I hope oo peach weal good today”
Soon I must haste to our retreat,
Where our dear teachers weekly meet;
I pick love notes from off the floor,
And rush down to the chapel door.
I walk along the hall with pals;
A wave, a smile from nursery gals,
Who sit and wait on rocking chair,
Preparing for a night of care.
A “Hello” here, a “Howdy” there,
As I descend the chapel stair,
A greeting from the PA man,
And then I go to meet the clan
Of those who work in Sunday school
And teach our kids the Golden Rule.
We pray and chat a little while,
And share a laugh or happy smile!
For twenty-eight long, joyous years
This group has brought me love and cheer!
I’m beginning now to feel at home;
I’m back here from my preachin’ roam.
And just ’bout when I do begin,
A little surly, feisty grin
Comes from the front down on my right –
It happens every Wednesday night!
It’s from the guy; he ain’t no runt –
The one who has the great big front!
As grand a guy as you’ll ever see,
And one of few who outwits me!
So then we view the lesson plan,
So we can teach the best we can.
My soul is warm, my heart doth burn;
My family’s welcomed my return!
Now I’m all the way back home,
I’ve ended my long weekly roam!
A cozy feeling’s in my heart;
I now belong; I feel a part
Of God’s sweetest, greatest folk
Who know my heart and sense my yoke!
I meet with those who superintend –
Each a loyal, proven friend!
Those tested ones who never bend,
And stick with Preacher to the end!
Ten minutes sure can pack a punch
When spent with that dear loyal bunch!
And then a walk along the hall
To try to speak to one and all;
A “Hi,’ “Hello” and “Howdydo”
To all of those who come in view.
A little pal with Reese’s Cup
Helps to raise my spirits up!
His little hug, his dad’s kind smile,
Both seem to make it all worthwhile!
Then to the choir’s small ready place
There comes a Cuban full of grace;
The Spanish pastor has in hand
Binaca for his preacherman!
A “Welcome home,” with Latin smile
Done in polished Spanish style;
There comes an oft-time, “I love you,”
And I think he means it through and through.
I then hobnob with pastor men;
I feel that Christian warmth again!
A smile, a grin, a laugh or two;
Then the choir comes into view.
Then I feel an inner gleam,
‘Cause we all form the platform team’.
I sense that everything’s all right
In my Father’s house tonight!
The piano and the organ play
The best preludes men hear today
“0 happy day, 0 happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away”
Or “Jesus Saves,” or “Beulah Land,’
Or “Blessed Jesus, Hold My Hand,’
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
I once was lost, but now am found.”
“I’m pressing on the upward way,”
Or “Oh, the land of cloudless day,’
“Still praying as I’m onward bound,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
The air is tense, the time is near,
Some moments pass, and now it’s here –
The platform team starts marchin’ in;
The hour has come when church begins.
The best song leader in the land
Begins to wave his arm and hand;
The happiest music earth can hear
Seems soon to draw the Saviour near.
It seems that nothing can go wrong,
Our voices, join the Seraph’s song;
And there we are, the family,
In our reunion jubilee!
The PA men are all in place,
I see an usher’s friendly face;
My heart soon beats with quickened pace,
As we all sing, “Amazing Grace.”
Praise God, I feel the victory!
That people God hath given me,
To teach, to comfort, lead, and love,
And show them how to live above
The sins, and doubts, and fears, and strife,
That try to ruin our earthly life
Are all together in one place
To look at Jesus’ matchless face,
And learn by God’s amazing grace
To learn more how to run the race.
We sing, we give, we laugh, we teach,
We weep, we learn, we praise, we preach!
I’ve found the answer to my search –
At last I am with my dear church!
There’s just somethin’ about Wednesday night
That makes me feel that all’s all right!
The smiles that come from every pew,
The timid, precious, “I love you.”
‘Tis Wednesday! Glory! What a day!
When I and mine can find our way,
When I can go to God’s dear place
To look upon my people’s face.
A place where often I’ve been led
To stand beside the blessed dead;
A place where many hear me say,
“Who gives this precious bride away?”
A place of Pastors’ School and prayer,
A place of Bible School and care,
A place where God has often met
To stem my stormy tides of fret.
‘Tis Thursday – time to meet my staff,
A time to work and a time to laugh.
My day’s most given to prayer and plans
And office work of a preacher man.
Then cometh Thursday night, and they
Who need advice along the way;
I only hope they understand
I want to give a loving hand.
Friday’s plans are much alike
The Thursday morn and Thursday night;
I plan the meals that I’m to feed,
To nourish my dear people’s need.
Then Saturday morning comes along,
I meet with those who all belong,
The ones who wisely lead with me
The great First Baptist ministry!
With Weber, Sisson, Auclair and Young
And Vogel and the ones who run
The Hammond Baptist Christian Schools,
And love the kids, enforce the rules.
To many, they are upper rungs;
To me, they are more like my sons.
To me, they are sort of like
Ray and Bob and Tom and Greg and Mike.
Then cometh two dear gracious men,
That feel to me like my own kin;
Those great and loyal college guys,
Who’ve learned so well how to disguise
Their genius and their learned minds
And intellect of Christian kind;
We’ve carried now for many years
The college load with many tears.
God bless these two beloved men,
Who’ve learned so well to deftly blend
Their wills with mine, with love and grace,
As we the college burdens face.
Then swiftly comes my Saturday night,
When I meet with guys of great delight;
Those nights are not all just the same,
But much is done in Jesus’ name.
Sometimes with my dear deacons meet,
On other nights my staff men greet;
Sometimes my preacher boys I teach,
Sometimes we ordain men to preach.
Then comes the day I like the best
That rises over all the rest!
At seven forty-five I plan
To go to meet my maintenance man.
To check the building’s temperature,
So that we are fairly sure
That my beloved folks will not
Be too cold, or be too hot.
And as I walk along the way,
My loyal guard is apt to say,
“Will the Cowboys lose again?”
Or, “Will the Cubbies ever win?”
It’s just a sixty-second walk,
But I feel better as we talk;
It always helps me start my day –
I’d miss it any other way!
I love that precious little miss
Who brings to me a juicy kiss;
And then the same from little sis
Explodes in me more happiness!
There’s that dear lady who for years
Has brought me fruit and flowers and cheers,
To show that in her heart doth dwell
Desire to keep her preacher well.
Then sliding ‘long the carpet floor
Come notes for me placed ‘neath my door –
A “Welcome home,” an “I love you,,
A “You’re the greatest Preacher,” too.
An answered prayer, a prayer request,
A “Take care, Preacher, and get some rest!”
Some love expressed, a burden shared,
An “I’ve been blessed,” from one who cared.
I love those few wise-cracking guys,
With impish and mischievious eyes,
Who guard me on my alley walk,
And tease with fun and idle talk.
There’s Dennis, John and Dick and Bill;
Sometimes there’s Jerry, Duke or Phil
Or Ray, or perhaps another one
Who share my day and give me fun!
I often wonder how they’d react
If I would suddenly be attacked!
I think I know what it would be –
They’d bow right there and pray for me!
Then to my favorite Sunday class;
We have a song, and then I ask
The ones to stand who are our guests;
And then I teach my very best.
Then back to the study to meet my staff
For a chuckle and some loving laughs;
Then back to the place I love the most,
The spot I stand in the Holy Ghost.
To try to be what my people need.
To preach, rebuke, exhort and feed
The ones I love most in all the land
Who for twenty-eight years, have held my hand.
And there stands one of the educable slow;
He extends his arms with face aglow,
With love for his buddy – his old preacher-man,
Whom he hugs with his arms and shakes with his hand.
He has paranoia and some “phrenia” called “schiz,”
But he’s not as retarded as folks think he is!
His love’s not retarded, and neither’s his soul,
And his heart’s just as normal as folks who are whole.
He knows a lot more than most PhDs,
He’s got enough sense to bow on his knees,
For in his spirit our Saviour doth dwell;
He isn’t so dumb; he’s not going to Hell!
He knows for sure that his sins are forgiven,
And he knows beyond doubt that he’s going to Heaven!
It seems to me that my buddy’s more wise
Than the educated folk – those dumb learned guys!
There they are – the ones I love –
God’s gift to me from Heav’n above!
The staffs on the platform, the choir is in place –
Those who sing the right tune, and the ones who sing bass!
Then cometh the most powerful of all –
An oldfashioned, First Baptist altar call!
The converts keep marching down the aisles
To the tune of a drummer boy, Jackie-boy Hyles.
Brother Colsten baptizes, and Brother Moffitt tries
Not to drown the ones he has to baptize;
Brother Colsten baptizes in firm, steady ways;
Brother Moffitt baptizes, and the audience prays!
Ah, ha! A favorite time draweth near –
A friend of mine cometh to give me some cheer;
A little crippled guy as cute as a bug
Waiteth to give his old preacher a hug.
And since a heart that is merry doeth good like some pills,
This smiling physician soon cureth my ills;
A warm awkward hug and a slobbery kiss
Is a sweet Lord’s day habit I don’t want to miss!
His sweet little mom I have known all her life;
It’s hard to believe she’s mother and wife.
His dear faithful daddy with kind, sincere smile
Makes my ministry’s trials seem now all worthwhile.
Another of those guys that I cannot refuse,
One of my favorite buddies with lower I.Q.’s,
Who weareth a button that bringeth him joys,
With these profound words, “The Dallas Cowboys.”
He points to it proudly with obvious glee,
Then expresses so sweetly his affection for me;
Perhaps an, “I love you,’ or “Happy Father’s Day!”
‘Tis profoundity spoken in simplicity’s way.
When I see the kind smile on his innocent face,
Then view the furrows that form on MY face,
I find myself asking this question a lot:
“Just which one’s retarded, and which one is not?”
Then back down the alley with a “Howdy” here and there,
To a line of people who need love and care;
One by one they bring me their fears,
As I carry their load, and hurt for their tears.
Then to the waiting room for some special folk,
To share a warm greeting, and maybe a joke;
Their guy’s countin’ money way into the day,
But that brief little visit is a help on my way.
How soon the day passes and comes six o’clock,
When I gather in this room with a part of my flock,
As questions are asked to the source of all truth;
Some answers are great, while some are uncouth.
Then back to the study, and back to the place –
My pulpit, the spot where I speak of His grace.
‘Tis there where I gladly run much of my race,
And there where I point to my dear Saviour’s face.
Then a warm invitation, and we baptize again,
Those who have received God’s forgiveness of sin;
Then back to the office to see some dear folks
Who need a preacher to help carry their yoke.
There’s that sweet couple at my door,
Doing a Sunday-nightly chore;
They’re holding just a little snack,
The kind that only love can pack.
Then there’s the one who loves his “Preach;”
He holds a bill for me to reach;
A weekly crisp two-dollar bill
Is handed me with love that’s real.
I love the orange juice and snacks,
Prepared by those who have such knack
Of saying well, “I do love you,’
And make me feel I love them too.
Then I start for the door to drive to my rest,
But, wait, a small envelope sits on my desk.
I open to find there’s three dollars in change
Placed by a dear friend who has weekly arranged
To feed all vending machines on my trips –
A paper, a coke and maybe some chips.
‘Tis one of his many and thoughtful kind ways
To say that he loves me on two lonesome days!
‘Tis very late on Sunday night;
I’ve given my soul, my heart, and my might!
I walk to my car with a security guy,
Then a warm parting with a “Good night!” and “Good-bye!”
I drive home, followed by a thoughtful friend
Who wants his old preacher to be safe to the end;
I’m met there by a security man,
Whose protection of me is part of God’s plan.
I trudge to the house for a few hours rest,
With the blessed assurance that I’ve done my best;
The guard walks with me by the light of the moon,
And in a few hours, I wake up the goon!
Oh, I realize the years are creeping up on me,
And the day will sure come, as I know it must be,
That another preacher man will preach where I preach,
And sit where I sit, and teach where I teach.
Another man of God will carry your fears,
And carry your burdens, and catch all your tears;
My prayer and desire is, that whoever the guy –
He’ll meet all your needs, and love you like I!