Faithlife
Faithlife

Cut From The Same Cloth

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A funeral message – Cecil King

Cecil would have liked my Dad.  As far as I can understand from the conversations that we have had, they were cut from similar cloth.

To be truthful, I would have to say that I am “cut from the same cloth” as well.  Even though there were many dark memories, I love my Dad.  His life was a tragedy in many ways.  I tell people that it was a lousy book until you got to the last chapter and the last chapter is what shapes my memories.

I’m proud to be “cut from that cloth”.  I was on Grand Manan this summer as things were “heating up”.  The son of one of my childhood friends, a “chip off the old block” decided to retrieve some stolen goods.  A dive suit valued at app. $1000 dollars.  In small communities, people know what is going on.  Island residents knew that stolen goods from a recent rash of “break-ins” were being stored in a local “crack house” awaiting pick up by a mainland “fence”.  At some point things become intolerable to folks.  This young fellow had a “Popeye moment”.  “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.”

He went to the door and asked for his dive suit.  The guy who answered the door played dumb.  That was dumb – stupid.  Along with anyone else who was standing in the way, they soon found themselves sprawled on the floor watching a very determined young man carrying his reclaimed dive suit out the door.  As a parting gesture, he paused long enough to throw a picnic table through the front picture window, followed by a  Molotov cocktail, courtesy of a supportive friend.

Others assisted in preventing the fire department from getting close enough to put the fire out and the operation was reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble.

That was wrong.  But I have to confess to you that there is something of that “cloth” within me that shouts – good for you.  The bad guys got it.

It’s a simple concept of justice not supported by law.  Do I recommend it – no but occasionally I applaud it.

For the same reason that I loved my Dad, I loved Cecil.  My imagination tells me about the kind of guy that he was and the basic fabric that he was made of.

I have heard Cecil on occasions when he could not remain seated, stand in a church gathering and thank God for redeeming the “cloth” – for taking the parts that were bad and covering them with the redeeming blood of Christ our Redeemer.  I had to listen closely as he would mumble the words.  I’d catch a few and miss a few but I got the full meaning.  It wasn’t so much the words – because words are cheap – it was the heart, the fabric, the cloth – the absolute reality of what this man experienced of God in the here and now.  I love him for that and this will be my abiding memory of Cecil King.  Oh yeah, the peppermints that he would hand me every Sunday morning and the poems and articles that we would trade.  I’ll miss that.

Let me read a few verses today from the book of Isaiah.

" “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." (Isaiah 51:1-3, NIV) [1]

We are all pursuing “righteousness” in one way or another.  It would seem that way to me anyway.  Unless we are completely sold to evil, we want to at least believe that we are doing the right thing.

I suppose there are those as well who shrug off the possibility that life is about more than what we experience in the few short years that we are here.  I think that this is the exception.  My feeling is that we want somehow to feel “justified” or right in terms of the way that we approach life.  When it comes to religion, there are hosts of people who shrug off the church because they’ve seen the distended underbelly of some ugly contortion that calls itself a church when in reality it is not.  You can call yourself anything that you want but it is your practice that determines your identity.

Faith is something different.  While it cannot exist apart from a community of faith, it is much more personal.  Faith is the substance and essence of a relationship with God that we are invited by grace to experience.  It has little to do with you and everything to do with God.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV) [2]

It’s something, Paul says that we can never “boast” about or take pride in.

When people find it, they want to pass it on.  Especially if you are a parent.  It’s one of those things that becomes essential in the minds of those who experience it.  They can’t live without it and they can’t die without it.  You can’t die without it.  Don’t die without it.

Look what Isaiah says.  A message for all of us who are made of some “cloth”.

" “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth.

 

Look to Cecil, your father, and to Nina, who gave you birth.  One of the greatest concerns for people of faith is not where they are going.  It’s what happens to those they leave behind.  Their example is not perfect anymore than Abraham and Sarah were perfect parents or perfect representations of faith.  That doesn’t matter because the equation remains as something between you and God.

Years ago, my dad gave me a homespun poem.  I’ve wondered what was in his heart when he wrote this.  He was not a churched man – ever, but he had some invisible connection that became vital – spiritual vital signs that were great as he flat-lined physically.  The unspoken prayers of a man who never prayed – I think.  It has given me something that has marked my life – a blessing that I can not overestimate.

God Bless Daddy's little man,

Mold him with thy mighty hand.

May He grow more every day,

In Thy likeness, every way.

In his heart O lord abide,

Be there always by his side.

May he always walk with thee,

Even through eternity.

Help him Lord to find the light,

Even through the blackest night.

Where quicksand lies across the way,

Keep him on solid ground I pray.

Never let him walk alone,

Guide him Jesus safely home.

Be with him in his darkest hour,

Give him all with thy power.

Grant him all his three score ten.

This is my prayer O Lord, AMEN.

Clifton Ingersoll

For this beautiful family today, . . .  for the friends who gather, . . . I feel confident that if Cecil were here, he would rise to his feet and passionately mumble the depths of his confidence that every one of us must come to a personal relationship with God and that if there were anything that would matter ultimately and eternally to him, it would be the issue of those he loved, finding their way home to God.  You can hear him . . . . can’t you?


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[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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