Sunday 20th Sept
We welcome Revd Michael Arundel to take our service in church this morning. The Team rota is up and running again until November. This Sunday I’m elsewhere so Michael is stepping in.
I’ve had three funerals over the last week. They are different under the COVID restrictions, with a limit on mourners. So people are treating them differently. There isn’t the sense of occasion in quite the same way. With so few people attending, they have a more intimate feel.
Families have decided not to print a service sheet and to ask for a simpler service. It’s not possible to sing hymns, though of course recorded music is fine, and it’s best to avoid too much movement, so generally, that means only the minister reading and speaking.
I’ve always been conscious that not many of those attending share Christian beliefs about life after death. It seems even more obvious when there is only a handful of mourners. My job as a priest is to preach the Word whatever the act of worship and I’ve always kept to that. And there is a real point these days at funerals. So many people have either no belief in any sort of life after death, or they hold a peculiar concoction of ideas mostly put together from TV or film portrayals of vampires and ghosts.
A new development following COVID is of people bypassing funeral directors altogether and arranging directly with the crematorium for the body to be disposed of. No service, no saying farewell, no offering that person’s life to each other and to God. As Christians, we find that an affront to the sacredness of that life but that doesn’t count for those with no religious faith.
So it’s right that I remind a family gathered for a funeral of the promises of God that the dead still live, whatever that life is like and wherever it is. The promise is that we shall be reunited with God when our time comes. And we hold to that promise on behalf of all those who don’t believe.