Friday, August 4, 2017
Monday, March 7, 2016
A transcript of the Tribute & Address given by Andy Hunter at the above.
There is only one Bible Reading for an occasion like this: Hebrews 12:1-3, which has at it’s the heart the Crusader Motto. I’m reading from the ESV which of the modern translations comes closest to the original motto rendering of ‘Looking unto Jesus’ (I’ll spare you Tommy’s 5 Fundamental Reasons why it’s unthinkable for an organisation to change its motto :)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
It’s a testimony to the richness of Glasgow (South) Crusaders (GSC) and in particular tonight Tommy, that (a) we’re all here, and (b) that come the nostalgia-fest later on, there will be an almost inexhaustible supply of reminiscences & stories to tell. For myself, and I guess many of us, GSC was quite simply a magical part of my life. Frequently some memory will arise in my mind that makes me smile or titter to myself – usually much to my wife’s annoyance or resigned question of ‘What is it now?’
The era of GSC, the era we can rightly call the ‘Tommy MacKay’ years, stretching from the 60’s through to the early 90s, was for all involved life-forming, character building and just immense fun. I sometimes think about 80% of all the laughter in my life to date took place in those GSC years.
Because the GSC of Tommy MacKay didn’t just organise events and run activities - it created an almost mythical world for boys and young men. It was full of names & places that still resonate as if they belong in some kind of ‘Middle Earth’: The Trig Point / Polnoon & the legendary Jump No.5 / The Rope Swing / The Ghost Story / Harold’s Corner / Pylon Hill / The Dry Jump / Nae Heid’s Bit / The Marlborough / The Ave of Trees / The Detour / The Smelly Burn / The Buck’s Head….
Then there were the personalities / the characters. The figures who grew in the imagination out of all proportion to reality…
n Paul ‘Anyone for a Hike’ Davis
n Mr ‘Yes, he is wearing a suit to Polnoon’ Armstrong
n Ronnie ‘Just my first initial & surname on the church noticeboard will be fine’ Stitt
n Jonathan ‘Potassium Permanganate’ Edwards
n The list goes on – Torquill, Gruntage, Joe 45, McMorran, The Hankins etc.
And of course, Tommy was always quick to make sure that every story became “The famous occasion” …when such and such happened. Indeed so outlandish were some of the things that happened then, that my son asked me a couple of years ago – ‘Did Tommy MacKay actually exist?’ But like the writer of Hebrews 11… ‘What more shall I say, for time would fail me to tell of…’
I think it’s fair to say though, that those GSC years were the end of an era. We were a group who in many ways did actually ‘live the Beano’: conker competitions; legging it from PC Plod; being genuinely excited about the prospect of winning a Mars Bar. It was a mixture of 'Boys Own’ adventures & high-jinx – that wouldn’t in large part be possible now or, let’s face it, be appreciated now. That’s not saying ‘things were better in the old days’ or our childhood was superior. It was just different – it was of its time – but for us whose time it was - it was a brilliant time. So thank you Tommy for so much of it.
But as the author LP Hartly put it: ‘The past is a another country, they do things differently there’. So it’s a place now to be visited in our minds or tonight remember in stories.
But there is part of that past that it would be a tragic mistake to leave there. Now you all know that I’m now, metaphorically speaking, half way down the second page of the ‘front pages’ of the Daily Reading [Bible] Notes – but as they would often say ‘keep reading, because this is the important bit’. Because all those activities were ultimately just a conveyor belt for something timeless.
If you ask: why GSC, why the events, why all the time put in by Tommy & others? Well it was all ultimately for one purpose, one desire: that boys & young men: might see Jesus. And in the process get a taste of why looking to Jesus is genuinely the most fulfilling, dynamic & life-affirming experience of all.
So let me very briefly highlight 2 aspects of that - 2 things that GSC & Tommy MacKay stood for…
THE BIBLE: GSC was a Bible Class – there was no doubting that if you attended it. The Memory Verses; the Junior, Inter & Senior Sections; the Daily Reading Notes (100s of hours of effort over decades for a readership of 30-40, but such was the conviction about the importance of the Bible it was done). It was the conviction that God was not a mystery but that He had spoken. The conviction that the God who made us, knows what is good us and desires to guide us. So that young men could know ‘who they are’, ‘what the point of their life is’ – rather than drowning in the confusion of doing their own thing or just following the crowd (who know no better) with all the emptiness & insecurity of that.
The Bible was central – because it showed us Jesus, and the life He offers. Life not promised to be easy but life that is good, wholesome and purposeful. Life that won’t, as otherwise would surely be the case, be undermined by our failures & guilty secrets – but life resting on the perfect, finished, saving work of Jesus Christ. ‘Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame’ – for those who look to him. Life that at the end of it all, we can look back upon and be content. GSC stood for the Bible because it stood for 'The Best Life'.
FRIENDSHIP: I look around here and most of my best friends are in the room. Which is remarkable because I don’t see many of them that much. There are other people I see much more of – but in crisis or in need of a serious favour it’s the guys here I’d turn to first. I guess, that’s got a lot to do with the fact that those friendships were made early in life. We became friends when the only agenda we had was friendship. There wasn’t then any sense of conditionally, wariness or contingency in those friendship as can be the case in later acquaintances. There was a pureness about those friendships which has allowed them to transcend the big gaps in the intervening years. That is a great blessing and something I’m very personally very thankful for.
But those friendships were and are just a taster of ‘The Great Friendship’ that GSC stood for - friendship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. The friendship that once made transcends every eventuality & all of life’s ups & downs
For some ‘the downs’ & disappointments of life have been all too real - with situations in life that have tested & strained the best human friendships. But let me say this, because Bible is very real in this (it never flannels about the realities of living in a Fallen World)… Life can be hard & hurtful, indeed the Christian life itself can be tough & bruising, but Jesus isn’t.
He’s not against, he’s not fighting us, undermining us or ever out to kick us. He is that Best Friend that sticks closer than a brother. As the old Crusader chorus says: ‘No never alone, he promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone’.
That is a friend not to be left behind, so even as we renew old friendships tonight, let me encourage you, if you haven’t done so of late, to renew that one true friendship with Jesus Himself.
There are so many blessings that GSC & yourself Tommy have given to us. But if we have these two: God’s Word to Guide Us & Friendship with Jesus – then we won’ just have memories – but eternal life itself.
The Best Life and the Best Friend - God be praised for that.
A surprise party to celebrate the 70th Birthday (allegedly) of Tommy MacKay, bringing together a number of old Glasgow (South) Crusaders. Highlights included a G(S)C Service with the traditional format - including Golden Bells, Julian's Competition, the award of a Knighthood Bible to Tommy to mark the occasion, and the reminder that Glasgow (South) stood for the Bible (because it stood for the Best Life) and for Friendship (because it wanted us to know the Best Friendship of all). Enjoy...
Photos: John Mowat.
|Nigel Mowat, Colin Campbell, Peter Dawson, John Grogan, Julian Guse, Richard Knak, Ron Knak|
Keith Mowat, Colin MacLeod, Tommy MacKay, Andy Hunter, Martin Boyd, Alistair Gilchrist
John Mowat, Jim Stewart, David Campbell