Ken Boyd 1945-2015: Eulogy

Posted: March 12, 2015 by boydmonster in Uncategorized

The weekend before Dad got sick, he, his wife, and I were talking about my cousin, Luke’s, funeral.  Be commented that she didn’t want me to have to do that when she died.  Dad couldn’t understand this.  He was proud of me and loved to hear me preach.  As hard as it was, it was an honor to preach the gospel at his funeral.  

I am here today to do two things. First, I am here to remember my dad. Secondly, however, I am here to do what the apostle Paul said to the young pastor Timothy “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.”

So, you are here today because you loved my dad. And I have been thinking how best to remember Dad. I thought of something, and maybe it’s a bit irreverent, but I’ll give it a try anyway. You all know the poem, The Night Before Christmas”? Clement Clarke Moore didn’t describe Santa the way you and I tend to think of him. His Santa wasn’t the coke can Santa that stalks the malls around Christmas time. Listen to what he says, and I think you’ll agree he bears a striking resemblance to Dad.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! (That was from the scotch)
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; (Dad’s beard never got white, but he did use Just for Men one time. Bev said he looked like he guy from the Oxyclean Infomercials.)
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. (Now that’s dad)
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

Again, I don’t mean to be irreverent or disrespect Dad in any way, but in an odd way it does sort of encompass how I think about Dad. He was a jolly old elf. And he brought a lot of joy and laughter into a lot of lives.

You’re here today because of what Dad meant to you. Perhaps you worked with him at IBM. You saw his competence and his genius. My dad was genuinely brilliant. He could build a car, or a house, or a computer or a radio that could bounce radio waves off the moon. But you may have also seen what I saw, that he worked hard and did his job well, but he never climbed the company ladder, and he never, NEVER, put his career before his family.

Perhaps you enjoyed Ham Radios with him. You knew his love and passion for radios, but you also knew his friendship. You knew how ready he was always to help anyone who needed it. One of his friends commented on Facebook “We met at 50 feet in the air, when he helped me build my 85 foot tower in 1983. I miss you as a brother Ken.” He loved his friends.

Maybe you are here because you were a member of his church. Dad was exactly the kind of man that I, as a pastor, love having in the church. He loved the church and he had his opinions, but if he was on your side he’d defend you to the death. He loved his church and it broke his heart when St Andrew’s was closed. He worked at church like he was getting paid. But, for him, he was glad to do it because he loved you.

He loved his friends and he had a lot of friends. If you were his friend, he loved you. If he met you and he liked you, he wanted to get to know you so that he could love you.

Thank you for being here today. But I know that if you knew Dad, you’re not just here to support us as a family, but because of what Dad meant to you.

If you will, please let me take a moment to remember what Dad meant to me. In his early 40’s, Dad found himself a single Dad. How many of you saw the house down in Indian Land? It was like a cross between that movie Overboard with Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn and Lord of the Flies. Dad was insistent that we weren’t going to eat in the living room like savages. We were going to have dinner around the kitchen table like a civilized family. So, he moved a T.V. to the kitchen table, and that’s where we ate! The first night Bev ever came over to the house to have dinner with us my brothers and I all sat around the table and quietly and politely ate our dinner. When we were done, having been appropriately trained by Dad’s mom, we all asked to be excused. Bev was impressed until Dad told us we could be excused as soon as we rinsed our dishes off. So, obediently, we all got up and put our plates on the floor for the dogs to lick them off, picked them up, and put them in the dishwasher.

After mom left, Dad was responsible for feeding us. So, on Monday nights we had Red Baron Pizzas. On Tuesday nights we had Microwaved Mexican TV Dinners. On Wednesday Nights we had baked chicken. On Thursday nights we had burgers on the grill. And then on the weekends we had what mom or Bev cooked for us. Every week. For two years. For some reason, one of the things dad always served with dinner was biscuits. He always burned the bottoms of them. We used to take them outside and throw them up against the side of the house to see if we could get them to crack.

But I have a confession to make. At the time I never really appreciated who dad was. Mark Twain once said “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

I first began to see who Dad was at my wedding. At the wedding reception, we had scheduled for several people to speak. The best man, the maid of honor, my father-in-law, who is a pastor, did the prayer, then dad stood up and grabbed the mic. And I thought, “How long has the bar been open for?” When Dad spoke, it wasn’t eloquent or deep, but what was deeply apparent was the he loved my wife and he was thrilled to welcome her into our family. He welcomed her that day, and he never stopped welcoming her.

It happened again when my own first son was born and a member of our congregation in Myrtle Beach came and said to me “you never really understood how much your own parents loved you before this, did you?”

In the midst of diaper changing, midnight feedings, crying fits over ice cream it began to dawn on me how much dad had done this on his own. Of course, we were older than my kids are, but still, dad did it.

The reason I never noticed how much he did was because he did it without complaining or feeling sorry for himself. And the reason he did it was because he loved us.

You’re here today because of how much Dad loved people. I’m glad that as an adult I got to know my dad. I’m glad that my last words to him were to let him know how proud I was of him.

That all being said, dad wasn’t perfect. There is a tendency to beatify a person after they have passed. If I did that, I would be doing a disservice to Dad. For one, the person I would be remembering wouldn’t be Ken Boyd. Ken Boyd had a temper on him. He used to always say that there was no such thing as an accident. For him, if something went wrong there was someone to blame. And when all of us kids moved out of the house, that meant Bev.

Dad wasn’t perfect. I never heard anyone describe him as “open-minded”. Bev can’t watch The Black List because Dad doesn’t like how James Spader looks. But I have heard that he did have a couple of friends who were democrats.

No, Dad wasn’t perfect. If we tried to whitewash him as if he were, it wouldn’t be Dad we were remembering. But it’s important to remember that he wasn’t perfect for another, more serious reason.

In order to understand why, I’m going to have to change my hat from son to preacher of the gospel. As Christians, we have one story. In the Life of Pi, a young hindu boy meets a Catholic priest who tells him the gospel. Entranced, the young boy asks for more.

“I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying. Surely this religion had more than one story in its bag — religions abound with stories. But Father Martin made me understand that … their religion had one Story, and to it they came back again and again, over and over. It was story enough for them.”

That story is very specific and the New Testament says that it is Good News, which is what the word Gospel means.

Now, the problem is, before you get to the good news, you have to deal with some pretty bad news. In our family, we’ve had enough bad news. Dad saw the death not only of his parents, which you expect, but the untimely death of two of his nephews and his younger brother. Again, I don’t mean to be trite, but if you know much of how the last few years have been for us, some folks have honestly asked whether our family is cursed.

And the answer, of course, is yes. Now stay with me for a minute, because this is part of the story.

In Genesis 1-3 we read the warning of God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die. You must read this story in context. God is not here saying, don’t touch the button as he stands over us with a hammer. Rather, He knows that life without Him is a pale and cheap imitation. He also knows that we cannot live with Him if we choose to live life in our own way. This is what sin is. Choosing to live our lives without reference to God.

When humanity chose to live on its own rights rather than to live in obedience to God, we became cursed in the sense that we removed ourselves from the very source of life. This is what death is. So we are cursed, not just the Boyd family, but the whole human family.

This may sound odd, but it is very easy for us to ignore the evidence of this curse all around us. For instance, we talk about death being a natural part of life because it is the end to which we are all headed. However, the biblical narrative says that death is an intruder. An unwelcome guest. In fact, it is an enemy.

And we know that that is true. That’s why we have this swirling of emotions right now. Because we weren’t wired to understand the ending of someone we love. It’s why right now we feel angry, confused, disoriented. Death is an enemy, an intruder, an unwelcome guest. And it is one none of us will escape.

I feel the unwelcome and unnatural aura of death particularly sharply right now as I always expected for my dad’s hair to turn gray before he died. It seems wrong that he is gone, and in a sense it is.

That’s the bad news. Paul puts it this way in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death….”

But that’s not where the story ends. If you have children of your own, you know just how easily they can push your buttons. It is almost as if this is their stated goal at the beginning of the day. However, this is not due to any deficiency on their part. Rather, they are simply doing what children do. If we as parents are short tempered and angry, it is due to our own lack of patience.

God, however, is a perfect parent. And we see His heart for sinners immediately after we the fall. Hear the agony in His voice as He searches for you and me in our rebellion against Him, “Adam, Adam, Where are you?”

What we see here is the heartbeat of God. God is not like the petty parent who looks at their child and sees them suffering and hardens his heart. I remember the look on my dad’s face the first time he caught me smoking. He wasn’t angry. He was sad. Now, that wouldn’t have been true for Chuck or Brent, but I was the youngest and he’d gone soft! But there were many times when I was making poor decisions and Dad knew it and he could tell that there was no way to convince me otherwise and I still remember the look on his face in those times. Dad wasn’t perfect, but our Heavenly Father is perfect.

It is a little trite to say I know why bad things have happened to this family or to anyone. How could I? But there is one thing I know. In Romans chapter 8, Paul says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

You see, this is something that only Christians know and it’s very important that we understand it. There are all sorts of reasons we can give for why God allows us to suffer, but when we look at Jesus Christ dying on the cross, the one thing we can’t say is that He doesn’t care. You see, on the cross, God spared no expense in order to win back to Himself people who counted Him to be nothing. Jesus was the man of sorrows who was acquainted with all our griefs! He knows what it is to get sick. He knows what it is to lose a parent. He knows what it is to stand at the tomb of a friend. He knows what it is to gasp for breath and die. Whatever we might say about why God allows us to suffer, the one thing we cannot say is that He doesn’t care!

But His death not only tells us that He cares, it actually accomplishes something for us. I read this quote at my church last week because it is for me so powerful, but the great Puritan theologian John Owen has this to say about the love of God:

Consider, hence, his eternal, free, unchangeable love. Were the love of Christ unto us but the love of a mere man, though never so excellent, innocent, and glorious, it must have a beginning, it must have an ending, and perhaps be fruitless. The love of Christ in his human nature towards his is exceeding, intense, tender, precious, compassionate, abundantly heightened by a sense of our miseries, feeling of our wants, experience of our temptations; all flowing from that rich stock of grace, pity, and compassion, which, on purpose for our good and supply, was bestowed on him… It is also fruitful: A man may love another as his own soul, yet perhaps that love of his cannot help him. He may thereby pity him in prison, but not relieve him; bemoan him in misery, but not help him; suffer with him in trouble, but not ease him. We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy into a friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the great desire of our soul. It was love that made Abraham cry, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” but it might not be. But now the love of Christ, being the love of God, is effectual and fruitful in producing all the good things which he willeth unto his beloved. He loves life, grace, and holiness into us; he loves us also into covenant, loves us into heaven. Love in him is properly to will good to any one: whatever good Christ by his love wills to any, that willing is operative of that good.”

And it is because of this love that we are able to have hope right now. Peter says this of the death of Jesus: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” In the Harry Potter books (books dad didn’t read. But he loved the movies!), Harry Potter can’t be harmed because he was saved by his mother in an act of pure love. Jesus’ death on the cross is the act of love that protects us from the grave and hell. Not only that, but the resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows that Jesus’ death isn’t just a sentimental act of love or a sign of his bravery in the face of power. Rather, it means that God is going to set all things right.

In the end of the final book of the Lord of the Rings, the loyal hobbit Sam Gamgee awakes after he has been rescued unconscious from Mount Doom and we read this “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” Tim Keller commenting on this says “The answer is yes. And the answer of the Bible is yes. If the resurrection is true, then the answer is yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue.”

This is what John saw when he looked forward to the day when all things are made right. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

You see, this is the story. Although we chose rather to be cursed than to walk in obedience to God, God Himself took the curse upon Himself, as Paul says “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Because of this, as the pastor and author Greg Gilbert has said “A Christian can look at death and say ‘The only thing the King has given you permission to do is deliver me into His arms.”

I’m glad that my dad knew that good news. If he did not, or if it weren’t true, what true hope could we have? And what I know Dad knew is that being a Christian is not a matter of being a good person. It’s not a matter of having the right morals or the right politics. It’s not being a good parent or a good child. Being a Christian may help you with those things. Being a Christian essentially means that you have found yourself wrapped up in that story as an undeserving recipient of an abounding level of love and mercy. Have you experienced that love? Have you turned to Christ and trusted Him with all your guilt and shame? Has God become your father? The Lord Jesus Christ abounds in love and mercy and He has never turned away anyone who came to Him to receive grace and mercy.

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Comments
  1. Danny says:

    The only thing better than reading these encouraging words, was hearing you preach them. It was and is a blessing to see your (our) faith in action. I know you struggle with the loss of your dad. However, though sorrowful in your loss, you have shared the joy of the time you had with your dad. Though sad at your dads passing, you exhibit the hope we have in his life eternal, through Jesus Christ. Thanks for posting, it is a blessing.

    Love in Christ,

  2. boydmonster says:

    Thanks brother! The Lord is faithful.

  3. Connie says:

    Bless you for sharing this. . . You are so right, Jesus, knows about heartaches and sorrows, I’m so glad He is our Guide and constant companion, who knows every step of the journey ahead of us, all the way to heaven. Your sermon/tribute to your earthly Dad was wonderful. He sounds a lot like my Daddy who raised four girls by himself (back in the day, as my granddaughter says) at a time when that just wasn’t done. I’m praying You’ll have/take all the time you need for healing tears to soften the heartache…for gentle walks through years of memories…for God’s infinite love to fill the empty places with His everlasting hope and peace. Much Love – Connie

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