Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Funeral contrast

The car arriving to take me to St Dyfrig and St Samson's for today's funeral arrived a little earlier than anticipated, just as I was about to sit down to lunch, so I abandoned the idea of eating, remembering the unexpected delays of yesterday's rendezvous, and was taken to the church with twenty minutes to spare and time to familiarise myself with the place and the way of carrying out the service. 

Only then did I realise that I'd walked out of the house in haste, and hadn't picked up the bag containing the photo and CD for the service. The funeral director was relaxed about my little crisis, and told me not to worry. Their driver took me back home at quite legal speeds all the way and competed the round trip in eighteen minutes. Very impressive road-craft, and to my surprise, the average journey time was exactly what Google Maps said it would be, when I was searching for the required address.

In total contrast to yesterday's service, there were half a dozen mourners, two church members and the funeral team present. Just two of the six children of the deceased attended, the family had broken up a long time ago, and lost touch. It's not infrequent in modern urban society that individuals who are aged and sick all but disappear from the society in which they lived and worked. It's understandable when people move around a great deal, and much sadder when their lives are spent in the same Parish where they were born and lived. The sun pushed back the clouds a little as we journeyed to Western Cemetery for the burial. I don't imagine there'll be many visitors to this man's grave in times to come.

After catching up on lunch, I relaxed and caught up on lost sleep - I've been going to bed too late quite lot recently and am no good on less than seven hours. Then I took the bus to town and walked to St German's again for the Mass of the day. Tonight, instead of a dozen there were four of us. It's not the first time in my experience that this Tuesday Holy Week evening service is poorly attended, and I've never figured out why. I preached ad extempore again and enjoyed doing so. 

There's just so much wealth of themes and issues to draw upon, the challenge is not to go on for too long. It doesn't help when the RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) Holy Week readings aren't identical each night this week as the ones in the Roman Catholic Weekday Lectionary, which I have used since 1975, when I was given a copy as a leaving present by the congregation of St Michael's Bartley Green in Birmingham, where I helped out during my free time as Chaplain in Birmingham University. For the most part the readings in the two lectionaries are almost identical. But every now and then, I get taken by surprise if I didn't checked in advance. At least today, I found out before I got to church!

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