wisdom at funerals

There is plenty of wisdom in Ecclesiastes, nowhere more than in ch7.2: "you'll learn more at a funeral than at a party" (paraphrase mine). I've been going to a few funerals recently and learning lots as I do so.

Last week it was Dr John Allen, remembered from my teenage days at Mt Albert Baptist where I hung out with his kids. His son David gave me my first opportunity to preach. His son Philip gave me my copy of JI Packer's Knowing God. And Priscilla - well, years later I remember getting up to preach at Windsor Park Baptist Church and being so surprised to see her curly mane of red hair in the congregation that I found myself starting my sermon with an exclamatory "Hi, Priscilla".

It was the tribute from Paul, Priscilla's husband, that so impacted me. I asked for a copy and permission to quote it here. Paul spoke about his father-in-law's "moral consistency - a consistency between his beliefs and his actions and between the private and public man ... there was no shadow of hypocrisy in him." Then out tumbled these profound statements:

"He was an accomplished person who had status in the world, but was not vain or self-important;
He was wise, but not remote;
He was learned, but not the least pompous;
He loved all his children and grandchildren individually in a special way, but never played favourites;
He was good-humoured, but never mocking or sarcastic;
He had theological depth, but also had a simple and child-like faith throughout his life;
He was knowledgeable about current affairs, but was never opinionated or bigoted;
He was a devoted and highly successful professional man, but was never dismissive or neglectful of his family;
He had pleasure in the whole realm of creation, equally in the cosmos of the night sky, or a bucket of wormy compost;
He enjoyed his own company, but was also full of social graces and was a uniter of people."

I did not know 'Uncle John' well enough to write all this, but I did know him well enough to see how all that is written here could be true. It carries a ring of authenticity - oh yes it does.

The influence of a good person has a way of growing and extending even further after they have died. When I read these words from his son-in-law that is most certainly the case for 'Uncle John' with me. And maybe by posting them on this blog, it can be the case for another - maybe others who did not even know him - because here is an example worth following.

nice chatting



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