marty roy lovatt

[I avoid using this blog to post sermons, messages and the like. Blogs feel like a different genre and I prefer to chat away. But on this occasion I'd like to pay tribute to my special friend, Marty Roy, who died earlier this month after a battle with cancer. The family asked me to share about Reflections on Friendship at the Memorial Service.]

Here is a slightly edited version of my comments...

My first memory of Martin Lovatt’s name was from my grandmother. The Lovatt family had moved from Whangarei to Auckland and had rented our family home while we were in India. On one home leave, Martin had just vacated a bedroom which I then occupied. As she wandered down the hallway and looked in my room (more property manager, than grandmother at this moment), she said… “I wish you’d keep your bedroom as tidy as Martin Lovatt kept it.”

It was when I returned from India for the final time, that Martin and I became friends. 
Gradually our lives became entwined…

We enjoyed our sport together:
He endured my cricket and I endured his tennis…
He even hid me on the tennis court somewhere on our way to winning the men’s doubles title at the Mt Albert Baptist Tennis Club.
But it was on the basketball court where we had our most fun together.
Martin was so fluid, so naturally athletic and, let’s face it, so cool.
And he was far better than I at retaining his sanctification
in our periodic efforts to dispose of Northcote Baptist Church.

We enjoyed our food together:
We’d wander down Wellesley St during our university days
to spend our student allowance on steak sandwiches.

Given the demise of my culinary skills, it should be placed on record
that it was I who actually taught Martin how to make an Indian curry
… on his way to becoming the great chef that he was.

When Barby came out to NZ that first time,
we became engaged and then headed off to Cape Reinga
on a road trip with Martin and his Mum.
I remember arriving at the Edwards’ bach in the Bay of Islands
with so many tamarillos that, in preparing them
for their subsequent encounter with the ice cream and then our bellies,
Martin and I had to use a bucket rather than a bowl.

We enjoyed our music and movies together
with George Benson, Billy Joel … and Chevy Chase leading the way.

Sadly, some things have been left undone:
I was never able to show my India to Martin.
He was never able to show me his Tata Beach in Golden Bay.

I always marvelled at the work of his hands:
initially, the sketches & paintings:
he did two for me that hung on the walls wherever we lived:
one of the family home just up the road
& the other of the old church in Russell;
and then the working with wood and the graphic design.

We both crossed the waters to be Best Man at each other’s weddings.
He traveled from Auckland to Chicago.
I traveled from Auckland to Nelson.

Just 11 days older than me, Martin’s middle name is Roy, mine is Royston.
But on many flights these days, there is not enough space
on my boarding pass for my full name – and so, across the top, I wait to see
if it will just say Windsor, Paul Roy … because I kinda like it when it does that.

We named our second son after Martin.
Martin said to our Martin not so long ago that he was ‘a symbol of our friendship’.       
While the name was given to honour Martin,
       there is also the prayer that God might use
       his own brand of genetics to graft the qualities
       of Martin the elder into Martin the younger
& Barby and I have loved watching the evidence of this happening.

At one level these are the kinds of comments expected from a friend at a memorial service.
But I have to say they are not the first things which came to mind – special though they are.
When I think of my friendship with Martin,
my immediate thoughts are of two profound truths in the Christian journey.
              One is that we carry the image of God in us.
              & the other is that Christ is formed progressively in us.

On an occasion like this it is wonderful to say of my friend:
            In him, I’ve glimpsed Jesus. He reminds me of the way God is.
            Because of Martin, I understand God & love Jesus that little bit more.

Martin was loyal
All the time I’ve known Martin – he has lived within a few kms of this spot.
while I’ve been a bit of here, there and everywhere
(& that is always a challenge for a friendship).
          The ‘here there and everywhere’ was never Martin’s concern.
          I was always met with that same combo:
                the expansive smile, the warm eyes and the committed hug
                that together worked to sweep away the time and the distance.
    A stable, loyal rock of a friend whose steadfast love did not cease.

Martin was gentle
Not outspoken.             Not aggressive.      
Not brash.                    Not needing to be the centre of attention.
Always the impulse to listen, rather than to speak.
I loved watching my kids warm to him at the different stages of their lives.
One wrote to me this week, simply saying:
‘Without a doubt, Uncle Marty was the kindest, gentlest man I have ever met.’
            & I found this gentleness to be soothing.
            When a little weary, a little burdened
– his gentle, humble heart did provide a little rest for the soul.

The loyalty of God, the gentleness of Jesus was reflected in Martin’s life.

Martin was good
In more recent years Martin and I were part of a men’s breakfast group
       And on the drive across town – I’d ask about his health & the family.
       Then over breakfast, similar questions would be asked.  
He was so good in the way he drew us in,
patiently giving us the opportunity to be part of this journey.
But then, every time, this brightness would come over him when the subject shifted to us.
        He wasn’t absorbed in what was happening to him.
        He wanted to be there for others. He remained so interested.
        He took our little challenges, by comparison, to heart
                   listening attentively and then praying fervently.
  Martin was such a thoroughly good man.

In some of the most difficult places in the world today,
the people of God enter into a little response together:
       from the front: ‘God is good’    with the people responding: ‘all the time’.
    then from the people: ‘all the time’  & from the front ‘God is good’

At times I’ve struggled to find God’s goodness in all this.
I remember reading a psalm with Martin in the car outside his home.
            As I got started – ‘ohh, I’ve picked the wrong psalm’
The words felt hollow. So few of the assurances seemed true for Martin.
I started skipping phrases and then verses.
I remember being so angry as I drove home.
I was ready to rip pages out of the Bible.
But… the appeal of the Psalms and of the God to whom they direct us
is that we can turn over a few pages
and find a psalm that expresses just how we are feeling.
Part of God’s goodness is that he is not unhinged by those feelings.
In fact, the Bible says that ‘in our distress, he is distressed’.
            He finds cancer to be sinister and evil.
And the goodness of God is seen most fully in his restorative plans
for us and for creation as we move into the future – a place Martin has reached.
            It is the certainty that these plans will come to pass
            that enables us to endure – plans that come to us as pictures in Revelation.
‘He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
            Never again will they hunger
            Never again will they thirst
The sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat
For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd
            He will lead them to springs of living water
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

Loyal. Gentle. Good. How many of us could bear witness to the same three?
This is what Martin brought to friendships. I knew it truly. I knew it deeply.

And it is in the loyalty and goodness of God and the gentleness of Christ that Martin would want us to place our confidence as we try to move forward from this place with him alive in our memories and hearts.

Paul Roy Windsor


Anonymous said…
Thank you Paul.

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