Summary: Funeral sermon for Frank W. Jackson, Sr., former church sexton (janitor) and van driver.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in
the tents of wickedness.
Frank Jackson was the very soul of dependability. If he was
to be at a certain place at a given time, he was there. He
was on time at the door, ready to go to work. I have never
seen a man who could time his arrival so perfectly. The
workday here began at 8:00 a.m.; his Buick would be pulling
up at 7:59 and certainly not 8:01. Utterly dependable.
Always on time at the door. At precisely 8:00 a.m., he would
be at the door of my office, waving at me, and saying, “All
right, Rev. Smith. All right!” On time at the door.
The doors of this place, this house of the Lord, were very
much his to attend. For twelve years he served this church
as its sexton, or janitor. Sexton or janitor, call it what you
will, the Bible calls that work doorkeeping. Caring for the
place of worship. For twelve years he served as our
doorkeeper, absolutely faithful, completely trustworthy, the
very soul of dependability. How else do you describe a man
who in all those years used not one day of sick leave? What
else can you say about a man who, if you asked him to do
something, never wrote it on a list, never said, “I’ll get to it
someday”, never had to say, “I forgot”, but just got it done?
What else can we say except that he was thoroughly
dependable; he was on time at the door.
When Mr. Jackson was working as our doorkeeper, there
was one little extra duty that we enlisted him for, and that
was to take out the church van and pick up some of the
guests who come for our Wednesday Club ministry. For
those not connected with our church, Wednesday Club is a
service we have provided for over thirty years for recovering
mental patients; it offers recreation, arts and crafts, a good
meal, and just time away from the hospital or the group
home. Some come on a bus from St. Elizabeths Hospital,
but others must be transported from group homes. Mr.
Jackson drove our church van to pick up and then deliver
home some of our guests. In all the years he did that, I do
not remember any occasion when he was late or when he
missed picking up somebody. He would make sure to get to
the group homes on time, because he knew that some of
the people would be upset if their ride was not there. And he
would take them back after Wednesday Club, making sure
they got home safely. We never had to send anybody along
to supervise Mr. Jackson when he drove for Wednesday
Club; he just knew the needs of our guests and took good
care of them. He was always on time at the door.
After Mr. Jackson retired from our staff, we began an after-
school program for children, offering tutoring and a safe
place. We had children enrolling from three or four local
elementary schools, most of them too far away for the
children to walk here. And so again we enlisted Frank
Jackson to be our van driver. Imagine, now: for the princely
sum of $40.00 a week, five days a week, September through
June, throughout the school year, this man left his home, in
all kinds of weather, came up here, fired up the van, and
drove it around to several schools, picking up children. He
did not do it for the money, which was minimal anyway (and
we’ve since found out that he didn’t even cash some of the
checks!). He did it for love of the children; he did it for love
of the house of the Lord; and he did it, knowing that he had
to be on time at the door. We never worried about that.
Frank Jackson was always on time at the door.
Now you know there are people who are on time because
they have to be, and then there are people who are on time
because it is a matter of integrity. There are people who get
to the door on time because if they don’t, their pay will be
docked or they will miss the flight or there will be some
penalty to pay. They are on time because somebody forces
them to be on time, or else they pay a price.
But there are others who are on time at the door because it
is a matter of integrity, a question of honor. There are others
who do what they do, not because the boss orders them or
because they are pushed into it, but they do it because