Sermon from Rev. Terry Traylor’s memorial service

Sermon from Rev. Terry Traylor’s memorial service

I wanted to post my sermon in honor of the life and ministry of my Father-in-law Rev. Terry Traylor. The following sermon was delivered at Terry’s memorial service at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA on December 16th 2013.

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My name is Aaron Anderson. I am the pastor at City Church in York, PA. More importantly, I am what Terry called “the Gorilla to whom I gave my Stradivarius,” his sweet oldest daughter Gail.

For half of my life, almost 19 years, Terry was a second Father to me and Susan, this amazing woman, a second mother to me. Joel, Greg, Jill, Nate, Alysa have all been brothers and sisters to me.

I am also father to six of Terry’s grandchildren, who endearingly call him “PeePops.”

I want to read a few verses from Hebrews 11-12 as we turn our gaze to Terry’s Redeemer Jesus Christ. Please stand with me, as was Terry’s own tradition and now mine, for the reading of God’s Word.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned…

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets…

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

“The grass withers, the flowers fade but the Word of God stands forever.”-but as Terry used to say “You don’t have to.”

When Joel called me on Thursday night and said “he died” seeds were planted in my deepest parts- ones whose blossoms are described as what our text calls “growing weary” and “losing heart.”

“Growing weary” because while this world’s highs are really high, the lows are really low. Aren’t you tired of hearing bad news? This has been a really hard year. Sometimes I get so weary I just want to quit.

I sent a note to the ‘Philadelphia Inquirer’ yesterday to ask that they cover Terry’s funeral because I’m weary of stories about disgraced ministers who abuse children or who through scandal give offense to the Gospel.

I said “Terry was one of the good ones.” I weary because in this great Race of Faith we lose men like Terry in seemingly untimely ways. (Click here to read the Philadelphia Inquirer’s kind story.)

It’s easy to “lose heart” because sometimes you wonder if God was napping at the wheel or if this Gospel ministry is just a big venture in what our critics call “delusional wish-fulfillment.”

When I received the news I was in the midst of writing a sermon about John the Baptist sending word to Jesus asking “Are you the One or should we expect another?”. I think John was disappointed and struggling with Jesus. I have to admit I’ve been there with John this week.

But Terry wouldn’t want that, and more importantly, the LORD would not have us grow weary or lose heart.

Terry’s hero in the faith was Moses. He was counseling someone who once spoke critically of Moses. He came unglued “Don’t you dare diss Moses or you won’t go to the Promised Land!” Well, maybe Terry didn’t say that last part:)

I sat quietly in Terry’s home this week and read the Moses narrative he so loved even as my own weary gaze was fixed on pictures of Terry everywhere, tempted to lose heart.

How do keep from growing weary and losing heart in the midst of this tragic loss?

Verse 27 of our text says “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

To keep from growing weary and losing heart we must be full of faith.

Moses was a man of great faith. Did you hear the repetition? “By faith” Moses chose a different identity than the Pharaoh’s grandson.” “By faith” Moses rejected sin’s pleasure for mistreatment w/the Lord’s people.” “By faith” Moses’ currency wasn’t Egypt’s treasures but rather disgrace for Christ.”

Why did Moses persevere? He saw the invisible One and it changed him!

The elders in Israel must have thought Moses was ‘pathologically optimistic.’ I can hear Moses in Terry’s voice say “But dude! I stood on holy ground and saw a burning bush!”

Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Like Moses, Terry was a man of great faith! Just like his hero Moses Terry was  still living by pathologically-optimistic-faith when he died! He could have trusted in his amazing reputation but he chose a different identity based on faith.

“By faith” Terry believed God existed; “By faith” Terry shepherded his family; “By faith” Terry planted multiple churches, changed skeptical presbyteries, was raising money to plant more!

If we are to keep from growing weary and losing heart we must be full of that same faith. We must fix our gaze not on Terry but on the invisible One Moses and Terry saw.

Hebrews 11:28 says “By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.”

To keep from growing weary and losing heart we must be full of Christ.

Moses was a man whose hope was in blood. “By faith” he trusted Lamb’s blood sloppily, slathered on the doorpost for his deliverance. “By faith” Moses led Israel to annually remember that bloody deliverance in the Passover meal. “By faith” Moses was looking ahead to Christ the Lamb of God.

Terry was a man full of Christ. Terry’s faith was no bare ‘faith’ or optimism. It was full of content.

Terry was deeply flawed, sinful, broken, and could go to dark places. You could love him one second and be infuriated the next. Susan knows this best:) But Terry owned his sinfulness, readily admitted his weakness and errors.

I think I understand why Moses was his hero. Moses was a man who didn’t think he could speak very well. Terry was often criticized for his sermons, his style or lack thereof, his artsy approach to preaching. Rarely did I see Terry’s pride wounded or him throw a fit. On those rare occasions of frustration I could hear his Mom tell him as a young boy “Terry, sit on that stool and cool your heels.”

Like Moses, “the most humble man in all the earth”, Terry was incredibly humble. How could he do it while facing criticism? “By faith” Terry trusted in the Lamb’s blood sloppily slathered over his life! He used to say “I don’t take myself very seriously but I do the Gospel!”

He was full of Christ and forever changed by the blood of Jesus. He knew that at the Cross of Jesus the worst that could be said about Terry Traylor was blared for the entire world to hear. But Terry was deeply changed by the opposite truth: that the now Visible God in Jesus was blaring another message: “I love you my son with an everlasting love.” I hope there is someone here who has never heard that message before and embraces Terry’s hope.

If we are to not grow weary or lose heart, we must be full of Christ!

There is a great story in the Washington Post from 2007 about one of the world’s greatest classical violinists, Joshua Bell. One day he threw on jeans and a Washington Nationals ball cap, setup in a DC Metro station in rush hour, pulled out his one-of-a-kind $3.5M Stradivarius, opened the case for collections and began to play masterpieces. Almost no one stopped to listen even though that very weekend people had paid $100 per ticket to see him play. He ended up collecting $37.

In Terry, we saw a man not full of himself but full of Christ. He was dressed as a non-descript, ordinary guy in a Metro station playing a masterpiece. The masterpiece Terry played so skillfully was the Christ that filled his life. If you could see Terry’s ‘spirit-man’ you would see a man dripping with life-giving blood of Jesus.

There is a subtle rebuke here for the kind of preaching we think we need. Do we want great orators or men full of Christ?

There is a great temptation in the midst of my own grief to be full of myself, my pity, my loss. I can hear Terry asking those he mentored “What is the present value of Jesus’ blood in your life?” 

Hebrews 12:1-3 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Terry has joined his heroes in that great cloud of witnesses. He is now cheering us on saying “Run the race. Fix your eyes on Jesus!!!”

Hebrews 11:29 says By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.”

To keep from growing weary and losing heart we must be fully invested in the Kingdom of God.

Moses was a man of vision. “By faith” Moses looked at the Red Sea and saw not only dry ground but a path to the Promised Land! “By faith” Moses carried God’s people through the wilderness and stood in the gap when they griped and moaned.

Moses was a man invested in seeing the Kingdom of God expand among the Lord’s people.

Terry, like his hero Moses, was a man of incredible vision.He could look at things that were not and seemingly bring them into existence by faith. RUF ministries, church plants and even a son-in-law I would have given up on. He believed the Gospel for all of us-older brothers and younger brothers too. He could see through the doubts, griping, and still be FOR people.

If you are here tonight and in ministry, or further along in ministry because of Terry’s influence please stand. Terry was fully invested not in his own kingdom (church budgets, attendance) but in building God’s kingdom!!!

On Saturday night Terry & Susan had the New Life elders at their home and Terry gave an update of his new MNA role of expanding the kingdom as a national church planting coordinator. Terry said “God saved the best for last.” Little did he know what those words would mean.

On the Thursday night when Terry passed, like his hero Moses, Terry climbed his own Mt. Nebo. The LORD said to Moses: “Take a look. The land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob is before you but you can only look not enter it.” I’m confident that when Terry got to the top of his own mountain he wasn’t met by Moses but by Jesus who said “Come on with me. I’ve crossed over and conquered. Rest a little while. Your buddy Moses wants to hang out.

Full of faith. Full of Christ. Fully invested in the kingdom of God. That’s the legacy Terry leaves us.

May the Lord help us fix our gaze on Jesus and make us people full of faith, full of Christ, fully invested in the kingdom of God. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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