for posterity’s sake, I wanted to post the words said by the pastor at Grandpa’s Service. I really enjoyed hearing what a fellow minister said about the life of a clergyman.
April 7, 2007
Memorial Service for: “Caleb” Elroy Shikles
Rev. Mr. Jerry D. Lawritson
INTRODUCTION: We are here to remember before God the Rev. Mr.
“Caleb” Elroy Shikles.
“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
To the Thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring
of the water of life.”
“Loveâ€¦.bears all things, believes all things, hopes all
things, endures all things. Love never end.”
(1 Corinthinas 13:4a, 7, 8a)
PRAYER: Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer of all things, from time to time to call
Our of the midst of Your peoples Your servants. Whether by a gentle
hand or Your Spirit coming as a hammer upon the heart, You summon and send Your messengers. For a while they walk among us.
The proclaim Your handiwork, express Your dream for the world, try
to move us with words of warning and consolation. And, whether we hear them or not, They still are Your servants. They still are Your witness to a weary world in need of redemption change and hope. Caleb was one of these whom You, in Your wisdom, summoned. He was Your faithful servant. He was Your witness for 68 years. He labored long and hard in Your vineyard and to day we commorate
his life and witness. We know that You have already received him into Your Eternal Presence. So, we wish to thank him for his many gifts shared with so many people. And, we pray that You will guide us in our grief and in our joy, in our feelings of loss, and in our renewed thankfulness that love may ever abound and abound ever more graciously. Now, may the light of Your Spirit guide us, the touch of Your Word strengthen us, and the visitation of Your Spirit deliver us
into the power of hope. Amen.
*HYMN: “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” #393 in the Hymnal.
READING OF SCRIPTURE: Numbers 14:5-9a; Psalm 121;
Romans 8:35-,37-39; John 14:1-3
*HYMN: “How Great Thou Art” (see printed sheet)
REMEMBERANCE: I wish to extend to all of Caleb’s family my heartfelt blessings in this your time of sorrow. I wish to extend to all of you on behalf of the church I serve, this congregation’s prayers for you uplifting and strength. In his 95 years of life surely Caleb knew what it meant to walk in lush meadows, and on harsh, stony paths. He knew the ups and downs of life. He knew successes and failures. But life is not what we expect. Life is what we do with what we do not expect. And here Caleb tired to meet life head on. Whatever else can be said about him, it can never be denied that he met life with a courage born of a deep and abiding faith.
Caleb was ordained into ministry in the American Baptist Church in 1939. So for 68 years he carried that honorific title: The Reverend Mr. Elroy Shikles. In the year 1952 his alma mater, the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School in Berkeley conferred on him an honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree. He then became the Reverend Dr. Elroy Shikles. For 48 years he served various parishes in Colorado and Washington state. Now that is more than a statistic. We have to ask ourselves how many peoples lives he touched. We have to ask ourselves how many tears did he try to comfort? How many broken hearts did he try to mend? How miles of hospital corridors did he walk? How many words of challenge to the powerful did he utter? How many words of sustaining hope did he try to give to the weak? How many times did his hand grasp the hand of someone else to convey a strength no words can utter? How many times he withstand the questioning glance of someone in need? 48 years of parish ministry happens an hour, a day, a month at a time. It is not always a glorious event. When Caleb was in Denver and even later, he fully embraced the Civil Rights movement. For this he lost church members, was met with open hostility. Yet he remained unswerving because he knew the cause to be just. He knew the cause not to be just politically just; but just before the God of the Universe. Caleb always tried to care more about what God thought than about what the popular thing might be. He was very celebratory about his relationship with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This was not because he knew a famous man; but because he knew a just man who was also a Christian clergyman. Now Caleb worked in the missionary field. He did this for many years. He believed that the love the Gospel taught him, the justice that Jesus stood for ought to be spread everywhere for those who need it most. He spent some time in the service of the World Council of Churches. He did this for the same reason. When people are the victims of history, someone need to pay attention. If that is not the duty of the Christian Church, then pray what on earth is the duty of the church? Calebe felt very deeply about this. He and shared a deep concern for the churches in our country today that seem to be more concerned with themselves than with the true plight of others. I kept telling Caleb that he had set a very high mark for the clergy. And I said it because to him I could say it and with all honesty.
Now when he was 75 years of age, he did something rather unusual. At age 75 Elroy Shikles took on a new name. He took the Biblical name of Caleb. Who was this Caleb. We can read about him in the books of Numbers, Joshua, Judges
and some other places. But Caleb was one of the spies Moses sent to assess the conditions of the promised land. The so called promised land look daunting. In fact it look downright impossible. This so called promised land did not seem to hold any promise at all. In fact it could not even be called a dream. It certainly was not a viable hope. So most of the spies came back and gave Moses and the people the bad news. It was Caleb who quieted the people and gave a report which basically said, no the promise is real, the dream is real, the hope is alive and well. Do not despair. We could put it another way. The spy Caleb saw the future. He saw it not as already realized; but as hopeful. He saw it not as already actualized; but as a promise that would be fulfilled. He saw the future not as shadows and more shadows; but as that time in which Light might break forth and new life begin. And, is this not the task the “Caleb” Elroy Shikles undertook? I am given to understand that after he left the active parish ministry, Caleb continued to grow in his understanding of the world, broaden his circle of inclusion, and become very open to new ways of seeing. He also undertook with renewed vigor his own deep concern over social issues and tried to live out a liberation theology that tried to erase the customary boundaries. And he did all of this with an exuberance for life that knew no dissuading. People could argue about whether the glass was half empty or half full. In such a discussion, Caleb would simply say,”Yes, but it is a beautiful glass.” His last years how many times did he tell me, or you or anyone else, “This is the most exciting time to be alive.” He wanted to be known not an institutional clergyman, but as a man who tried to follow Jesus of Nazreth. He self titled himself a, “Jesus-er.” Well, Bonhoeffer titled Jesus, “The Man for Others.” And it is this Jesus that Caleb wanted to be known as following. Caleb spied out the future and he told us that the promise is real, the dream is real, the hope is alive. Do not despair. Caleb was a modern day Caleb. It was is great gift to us.
Caleb had man y passions from hand ball to mountain climbing. But one passion he never left behind was a deep seated Christian Pacifism. He was and remained to his death a Christian pacifist not because it was a political strategy; but because he felt that the Christian gospel demanded it. He was trying to be obedient to the Jesus he knew. He knew that I was not and could not be a Christian pacifist. He respected that. And he knew my reasons. But he also knew that I held him in the highest regard for his deep Christian conviction. He knew that I honored him for it. I still do. War is so problematical. Caleb never thought anything good could come from war. He thought that human beings had been given enough instruction by God in all of the world’s great religions so that we, as a species, ought to be able to do better. Who am I to argue with that, or anyone for that matter? We can and ought to do better. Still, Caleb saw the future and said: go for it. True to his adoptive name to the end.
I will let Caleb have the last word. He wrote: “I’ve always delighted in feeling that the soul is incarnated into every being, and that we add accretions to it in our style of life and Christ like behavior; and by thinking God’s thoughts and helping Him in improving the world and making it a better place for generations yet to come.”
(READERS and SPEAKERS):
1. David Shikles, son, sharing his tribute to his father
2. Heather Colton, granddaughter -reading a tribute from Dale Johnson, associate pastor in Denver, Colorado
3. Tracy Lowrey, granddaughter -reading a tribute from David Kile, associate pastor in Grand Junction, Colorado
4. Heidi Beier, granddaughter -reading a tribute from Jack Kiekel, associate pastor in Denver, Colorado
5. John Styn, grandson, giving his tribute to his grandfather
CLOSING PRAYER:` Magnified and Sanctified be Your Great Name O God. May Your Kingdom Come speedily and Soon. And may all of Your people say: Amen. We thank you for “Caleb” Elroy Shikles and all that he was through grace, nature and tenacity of will. We thank You for setting him into the world as one of Your witnesses. We thank You that he showed us that life is a journey filled with wonder and ongoing learning. We thank You that he knew how to laugh and play. We thank You for the time we had with him, whether that time covered many years or few. Now we commit him into Your Eternal Care in the sure and certain hope in the resurrection to new life through our Lord Jesus the Christ. May Your command and Your grace always sustain us. Blessed be Thou, O Master of the universe, who has created us, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season and who does create wonders. Amen.
*CLOSING HYMN: “Be Now My Vision” #451 (In the Hymnal)