Summary: Funeral sermon of a cross guard who was killed by a hit and run driver while he was helping children cross the street in Oak Cliff, Dallas Texas.
Today, we have come to celebrate the life of Brother Franklin Delano Lester. Our celebration of Brother Lester’s life includes singing, scripture reading, sharing his stories, flowers, tributes, smiles, giggles, tears, handshakes, hugs, and even some AMENS! AMEN!!
The question that Big Frank raises is this: ‘Who do the people of Oak Cliff say that I was?’ This is the same question that Jesus raises to his disciples, ”Who do people say that I the Son of man am?” And this question is one that all humanity should answer. Why? Cause everybody aught to know who Jesus is.
I know some of us claim that we don’t care what others say about us. But listen, it’s important to know who others say you are. If it was important for Jesus to know who others said he was, it aught to be important for us to know, “who others say we are.”
Who did the people of 1st century Palestine say that Jesus was? Well, some said that Jesus was “John the Baptist, others said that Jesus was Elijah, and still others said that Jesus was Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
Jesus’ disciples tell him who the people say that he is, and now Franklin Delano Lester wants to know who the people of Oak Cliff say that he was. Well, Big Frank, some say you were the man who turned bad days into good days. Others say, you were the man who had ears to listen to the sad songs that sad people sung, and still others say, “You were just a simple man.” When I hear all these good things about you, it compels me to say, “Everybody aught to know who Franklin Delano Lester was!!
Now ask any kid, who Big Frank was, and any kid on the block will tell you that he was the one who knew you by name and always had a word that would make you feet skip and your face smile. He was the one with a voice of hope crying out in the wilderness of despair when bad things happen to kids,” saying, “Here’s a toy: play your troubles away.” I tell you the truth; I am not pulling your leg, and everybody aught to know who Franklin Delano Lester was.
Yes, cry the kids all over Oak Cliff: “Everybody aught to know the man who wore a belt, not just to hold up his pants, but to hang toys for all the children who hang down their hands when pain was in their hearts. ”I tell you the truth, everybody aught to know who Big Frank was!
I know who he was says his sister Dean: “he was the best brother ever. You could not find a better brother. He was beyond dependable; he was consistent. If he said he would be there at 10, he would be there at 9:30. If he said it, he would do it: not just do it, but do it better. He was not on time, he was early. You never had to follow up, you never had to call back, you never had to worry, you never had to look back, he would be there. He had my back. That was my brother.
I know who he was says his son Donald: He was a simple man. He never wanted much. He lived by some simple rules: treat others as you wish them to treat you, pray nightly with sincerity, give respect and expect respect, and always be a man of your word. He couldn’t stand a milk mouth, someone who was weak and would lie just for the sake of it. He was always a man of his word. If he said he would pay you on Tuesday, at 9:30 in the morning, you got your money on Tuesday at 9:30 in the morning. The last rule was never keep another man’s money in your pocket. He was a great dad. We were never without a house, never without food, never without guidance, and never without love.
I know who he was says his son, Gerald: He was stern, he was hard, but he was fair. He loved me like no other one could love me. We argued and we fussed. We accused without letting it get the best of us. We laugh and we talk about all things. I listen to him reminisce about what he sing. He loves the world and the world love him. And I give thanks to the Lord that he will live again. Thank you dad! Everybody aught to know who Big Frank was: He was my dad.
I hear others crying, let me testify. I know who Big Frank was. Could it be that this woman who Big Frank had just helped cross the street, pushing her grandchild in a stroller knows who Big Frank was? I hear her saying from a soul of conviction: “He’s the one who while dying, tries to sit up to make sure that me and my granddaughter got across the street safely. He takes just one look, and sensing that we are safe, he closes his eyes, he dies. But, not before he takes that protective look. Oh, I tell you the truth, I lie not: BIG FRANK WAS A TRUE FRIEND.