Where there is despair, give hope.
Where there is darkness, bring light.
Where there is ignorance, grant wisdom,
And for those of us who have grasped the truth, give humility.
-Rev. Dr. Raymond Nott
One of the benefits and highlights of serving the Presbyterian Church in the Plains, Rocky Mountains and Great Basin of the American West was the opportunity to attend the Omaha Seminary Summer School of Religion in Hastings, Nebraska for a week during the summer. The Omaha Seminary closed in the depression, but the monies of the seminary were invested in the Omaha Seminary Foundation and used to further the education of those within the area formerly served by the seminary. These week long events featured great food, fellowship, lectures, entertainment, and preaching. It was at one of these events that I got to know the late Frank Harrington, pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church. I also privileged to study under people like Paul and Elizabeth Achtemeier and James Sanders. Paul taught New Testament and Elizabeth taught Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. James Sanders was known for his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The seminars also tapped their sessions, which allowed me to re-listen to some of the more enlightening lectures and sermons. I was also blessed to find in my first office in Cedar City (before we built the new church) the tapes from previous summer seminars that my predecessor, John McCandless, had attended. During this period of my ministry, I often found my way running up and down Interstate 15 for meetings in Salt Lake City. Lot’s of long drives. I listened to all of these old tapes, too, and was especially intrigued by the sermons of Ray Nott. He was a long-term pastor from Wyoming, who upon retirement spent two years as a missionary in Bangkok. His sermons, which drew upon his experiences in the American West and Thailand, were funny and meaningful. I would have enjoyed meeting him, but never had the opportunity and he died about the time I moved from Utah. Before each sermon, Nott gave the above prayer. I no longer have those cassette tapes (and would struggle to find a player, if I had the tapes), but I remember the prayer.