In many ways this has been a hard week, emotionally. Over the last three weeks I have been involved in five funerals, two through Church (including that of the very first lady I visited in this Circuit) and three personal funerals. This week saw the last of the five and it was for a very dear and personal friend of mine, with whom I have journeyed for the last seventeen years. he and I have shared in much and at an extremely deep level as we have sought to support each other.
I had the privilege of conducting his funeral at which about 150 people attended: a time of both tears and laughter it was a special occasion. As we had held the cremation first and then returned to the Chapel where he had belonged we were able to engage in an uplifting and encouraging service in which we remembered his personality, his wisdom and rejoiced in his faith which has assured us all of the next part of his journey.
I`m very much reminded of the sense of Scripture which says those who follow Jesus will see Heaven. Now, I`m not about to get into a debate about what or where heaven is but I see that in some way its about continuing the journey, begun in this life, with Jesus; its about seeing Him face to face; its about understanding more of Him; its about `running the race and claiming the prize`. Most of all I think its about faith, hope and love (and the greatest of these is love); surely the greatest gift is receiving the love of Jesus in its fullest sense, not impaired by our earthly understanding and our prejudices.
And so I can delight that, although I miss him, my friend is with our Lord Jesus.
The second thing that has happened this week is the sense I have gained of true colleagueship and friendship around me. On Thursday I was part of the Circuit leadership team meeting and to be honest I wasn`t really `with it` as my mind was still on the events of the previous days funeral and I was emotionally drained. It was during this meeting that I felt a sense that they all understood and were in prayerful support. My strength grew as the gathering went on and then at the end they prayed directly for me.
Thirdly, there are two very special people who have come into the life of Alison and I; Mark (Vikkis partner) and Michelle (Rebeccas flat mate). They too have both been very supportive and encouraging and simply a joy to have in the family. They have lifted me this week with kind and caring words and also making me laugh at the right time.