Friday, 23 August 2013

New Things: a Short Funeral Homily for Doreen Hicken—with reference to Rev 21:1-7


And he that sat  upon  the  throne  said,  Behold,  I  make  all things  new.  And he  said  unto me,  Write:  for these  words  are  true  and  faithful. 
And so John wrote, true and faithful words, which come to us this afternoon in Elizabethan English—the language of Shakespeare—translated almost five hundred years ago, from New Testament Greek, an even older language. The language changes but the truth and faithfulness does not.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)
Still faithful, true and forever.
Behold,  I  make  all things  new. 
I SAW  a  new  heaven  and  a  new  earth:  for  the first  heaven  and  the  first  earth  were  passed  away…And  I  John saw  the  holy  city,  new  Jerusalem,  coming  down  from  God  out  of  heaven,  prepared  as  a  bride  adorned  for  her  husband.  
God is always renewing things. New heaven and earth, new holy city, Jerusalem—new way and place to be with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—new life because the first—the old—had passed away. Good news because, we believe that, as we shall shortly pray,
All those that are departed in the true faith of thy holy Name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss—new life with The LORD—both in body and soul, in thy eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (The Book of Common Prayer, p597)
Doreen's first life, her old life, has come to an end. We're sad about that but glad the dialysis, pain and fatigue is over. We wish her first life with us could have been longer and that she could have grown older still with us—enjoying her family, baking, coffee with friends, water fights and crafts. But even now as we grieve her passing, if you listen closely to the words we've said and heard and will say and hear as this service continues, there is for us
a  great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God  is with men and women, and he will dwell with  them, and  they  shall  be  his  people,  and  God  himself  shall  be  with  them,  and  be  their  God.  
And  God  shall  wipe  away  all  tears  from  their  eyes;  and  there  shall be no more death, neither  sorrow, nor crying,  neither  shall  there  be  any more  pain:  for the  former  things  are  passed  away.  
For Doreen, the former things of the old life are passed away. We who remain are still living in the former things—amid death, sorrow, crying and pain—the first heaven and earth, the old holy city, Jerusalem.

And yet, we are not like those without hope. There is joy and wonder at the presence of our Risen Lord and in your good memories of Doreen. God in his generosity, steadfast love and mercy gave her to you. A gift which enriched your lives.

This phase of Doreen's life and your lives are over—it  is  done, as The LORD said to John. Listen again to that great voice out of heaven saying…
I  am  Alpha  and  Omega, the  beginning  and  the  end.  I  will  give  unto those that  are  athirst  of  the  fountain  of  the water  of  life freely. Those that overcometh shall inherit all things;  and  I  will  be  their  God,  and  they  shall  be  my  sons and daughters. 
Jesus is our beginning. Start with him. Develop a thirst for the water of life that flows so freely from him and that only he can give. Note that developing such a thirst means overcoming other first and old life things which look refreshing and taste sweet but which do not, and cannot, lead to the life as the sons and daughters of our God. That end and new life can only come through Jesus.

Please join me once again in praying the Anthem near the bottom of page 597:
I HEARD a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: Even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours.