Today I took part in the funeral of a friend and former colleague from my curacy, Marion Jones. Marion was an active Lay Reader, Sacristan and rota wrangler; she ran our holiday club, led assemblies across all the schools in the town and hosted regular parade services of the Scouts and Guides. She didn’t like the limelight and would only reluctantly come forward when being thanked and praised by my Training Incumbent. I saw, chatted to and prayed with her nearly every day for over 3 years and (despite a few minor disagreements now and then!) we got on very well. She was very good to Rachel, always interested, supportive and encouraging of her. In short, she was a good friend.
Death always brings with it reflection and the chance for new beginnings, as well as memories and sadness. I think Marion would find it quite appropriate that her Funeral was held during Easter time. If I could choose a season for mine, I think I’d go for Easter too! The time when, most of all, Christians celebrate that Death turned to New Beginnings – not just for Jesus in the Resurrection, but for you and me. We have the chance for new beginnings: in the forgiveness we receive from God and give others, in our growth as his people in service and mission, and the new beginning of God’s eternity when we reach our own end.
Maybe this feels a bit heavy for the newsletter! But the promise of new beginnings, the promise of Easter, is needed all around us: by people who have lost jobs, security, reliable sources of food; by people who have lost hope, faith, joy; by people who are looking for purpose, meaning and direction in their lives; by people whose minds and spirits have been worn down over this last year and more; by people living through war, terror and injustice. They can all find new beginnings – with the right support – and that goes for people looking for a new beginning with God. Maybe that is someone you know, a family member, colleague, or friend. Perhaps you can invite them gently into our community of All Saints.
We aren’t part of this church family because we have arrived at a destination, but because we are on the road of new beginnings – step by step we hope and pray the loving fire of God’s Spirit will renew us, inspire us and transform us. We are not there yet, but he invites us to begin, in this world and the next.
May Marion, and all those we love but see no longer, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. And rise in Glory. Amen.
With my love and prayers for you,
All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 20th May 2021