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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Back (in Black)

I haven't blogged for a very long time - posting sermon texts doesn't really count, does it?

I wanted to reflect on a funeral I took today, and since at the very start this blog was a vehicle for ministry reflections, here we go.

Normally if I have arranged a funeral of someone I didn't know, and I haven't met the family, and everything has been arranged by email or phone, I'm going to be thinking 'alarm bells', as past experience taught me these are circumstances likely to lead to the nightmare scenario of a funeral that doesn't go well. You can laugh at a baptism when the vicar messes up the liturgy  or at a wedding when he or she drops the ring (I have done this twice), but a funeral has to be right.

So I arrived at the excellent 3 Counties Crematorium, in plenty of time and connected with the standard bearer (it was a Colonel's funeral you see). Times are changing - I hadn't met the family so I searched for them on Facebook so that I knew what they looked like when they arrived. Just a couple of years back that would have been impossible.

So when the nephews and nieces arrived I could tell it was them, and was able to greet them and make sure everything was to their satisfaction. They had chosen some excellent music befitting their aunt - Nimrod,  RV Williams' Rhosymedra and Brewer's Marche Heroique, and we sang "I vow to thee my country" which is always emotional for me in the second verse.

Just before we started, the snowstorm stopped and the sun came out. The congregation was small, but sang the hymn (which is always a relief as I'm never confident the Crematorium staff turn down the minister's mic during the singing!) It was one of those servies when everyone learns a lot about the person who has died, but today all of it was good things, things to smile about and be pleasantly surprised. The reading was from Ecclesiastes 3 and I could tell everyone was singing the 'Byrds" in their heads!

The service went well. Driving home I put on Nimrod again in the car and experienced a moment of serenity passing a vintage Mercedes 300SL gullwing. The picture and clip won't do it justice but I thought I'd try to share it with you

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