My Friend Clay
I do not remember not knowing Clay Parkinson. My family had just moved from New York to Pampano Beach in Florida. The Quintero's had just moved from California too. We all met at the First Christian Church there in Florida. Our families and Clay, and his wife Kathy, would be intertwined for the rest of eternity. The proverb was never more true when it said there is a friend that is closer than a brother.
Clay always took a deep interest in my life, my family and my ministry. I borrowed Clay's car to drive to my first "interview" in Mississippi. I drove that same car to Belle Glade, Florida and New Orleans where I was hired by the Barton Avenue Church of Christ. He was a man who loved Jesus, loved the lost and didn't care what color you were.
Life is a gift of grace from our Abba in heaven and Clay had a lot of it. As all humans do, he had his quirks but he could laugh and have a good time simply enjoying that grace.
Last Sunday morning, the Sun hadn't even come up yet, I got a call on my cell phone from my dad in Alabama. The conversation was short. All he said was "Clay has gone home." Clay had suffered terribly with cancer in the last days of his life and our merciful Father said enough was enough. Through it all God was glorified though.
I was given the awesome privilege of helping to lead in the celebration of Clay's life. God's human family was seen in its beauty and diversity on that day mixed with sadness and joy. Melvin, a black man, gave a powerful sermon asking if our "epitaph" testified to a God filled life as Clay's does. Alvin, another black man, sang a soul stirring rendition of being home with God. And I, a white man, shared memories and was asked to read a poem written by Clay.
Clay was and is my friend. As a kid he was Clay a friend of my mom and dad. As I grew older he became my friend too. Father I thank you for bringing Clay into not only my life but the lives of all the Valentines and Quintero's. We love Clay. And on Sunday last I knew Clay was with us as we gathered around the table in the presence of God ... and I smiled.
You, Me and the Cross by Clay Parkinson
They nalied our Savior to a cross
Where He suffered, bled and died
There He paid an awful cost
While His mother watched ... and cried.
Jesus knew no sin ... he spoke no guile
He came to do the Father's will
So He drank the pungent bile
And His blood flowed down Calvary's hill.
They sealed Him in a silent tomb
While Roman soldiers stood nearby
Tho' a grave was not our Redeemer's doom
In three days He arose ... alive!
God rolled aside the granite stone
And Jesus walked past the guards who swooned
Thus ... for all our sins He did atone
Satan's plan was ruined.
He washed our scarlet sins away
And made them white as snow
Eternal life shall be ours one day
For He told us so.
Now as the Father views the cross
He sees not His Son on the tree
God looks at two that once were lost
He sees you ... and He sees me.
Thank you Clay for the laughs. Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for being my friend.
See you soon,