This week we said 'farewell' to two members of our lunch club. Peter and Sheila both died last week and their funerals occurred this week. Each of them was a bit 'unlovely' and they had few friends but it had been a privilege to get to know them in the last year and to show them something of Christ's love.
Sheila had shared with us some of her worries about her family while Peter had finally learned to smile after a life time of disappointment and emotional pain.
I attended both funerals on behalf of the church and club - complete with dog-collar which clearly freaked out the humanist celebrant at Sheila's!
Sheila had a very clear faith, having grown up in a Methodist Church in Norfolk and had had links with us on and off for many years, I felt sad for her that at the end no one (openly) commended her to the care of God and wondered at the theology of my silent words of commendation as the curtains closed! Ah well, it made me feel better.
Peters' funeral was simple but beautiful, there was gentle honesty about a man whose life had seen countless disappointments and whose potential was never fulfilled. The vicar and I had chatted in the minutes before the service and he managed to mention our lunch club as one of Peter's interests! After the service the two of us from church (the only non family people there) were warmly greeted by his relatives, one even running after us to thank us for coming. Peter was a lonely man, and it was good for both us and them to know that he was loved.
How little we hear about church with the older generations, how fixated we become with programmes and projects. This week I was reminded that part of my call/ministry is located in the practical words of Matthew 25 - in a new paraphrase 'I was unlovely and you came to my funeral'.
We commend Sheila and Peter to the mercy and grace of God in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Christ Jesus. Amen.