Posts Tagged ‘funeral’

Uncle George’s Testimony… Kept in Another Day!

November 17, 2017

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Earlier this week I attended the funeral of my last surviving uncle and good friend (George, 95) who was called Home just last Monday. It has been a difficult week for many other reasons too but surely the Lord’s message to His children is: ““Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55v22) As another link in the family chain is broken, I am reminded of the bereavement I felt upon the death of my parents and I do miss their prayerful sincerity, especially in the difficult moments of life. I thank my Lord (and theirs) for the strength He gives me in the midst of adversity to continue to write as He directs. Above all I feel that He wants me to share the testimony of Uncle George (below) which was given out at his funeral this week. A testimony distributed at a funeral is surely an uplifting encouragement – and a witness!

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Most of us prefer to spend as short a time as possible in hospital these days, given that there are many infections we can pick up, but perhaps it is a good thing that Uncle George stayed in “another day,” away back in the year 1954!

My Uncle George Trouton was born on 7th June 1922 in Thomas Street in the town of Portadown, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. He met my mother’s only sister (Aunty Betty as we called her) around the year 1943 and the couple were married on 23rd August, 1948 in Ardmore Church of Ireland. All who knew them would agree that George and Betty were very close and an inseparable couple who worked together over the years in their chemist shop in Church Street, Portadown. And when they weren’t working in their business, they would travel to England, Scotland and Wales on holidays, often visiting friends and acquaintances as they journeyed. My memories of Uncle George and Aunty Betty are of warm family gatherings, often facilitated by my loving parents, Jack and Ella Hutchinson – wonderful times and memories which have enriched my life so much in my youth.

On Friday 10th June, 2016 my husband Martin and I called with Uncle George, who was so glad to see us and took great joy in telling us of the day he had come to know the Lord as Saviour. In February 1954 he had been suffering from appendicitis. He had gone into hospital to have his appendix out and was supposed to come home on a Wednesday. However, they kept him for another day… At the time they were living in Killicomaine estate and occasionally went to Edenderry Presbyterian Church as it was a shorter walk than Thomas Street Methodist Church, where they had previously attended, when they lived in that area. He and Aunty Betty indeed found it a much shorter walk as they did not have a car at the time.

Uncle George had no record of the date of that most important day of his life (only that it was February 1954) although it could well be ascertained from his hospital file, which is most likely a slim enough volume for all his 95 years; given that Uncle George had relatively good health for most of his lifetime! Rev. Dr. Craig came in that day on the Thursday at lunchtime to visit the patients in Craigavon Hospital and it was then that he spoke to George of the things of eternity and of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He had suffered and died so that he could have a new and wonderful life here and a Home in Heaven.

He told us that he had previously had a form of ‘salvation experience’ in Thomas Street Methodist and would have been regarded as a respectable church going person. However, when Dr. Craig spoke to him of spiritual matters, he knew immediately that this was something missing in his life and that he had never really put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Yes, he may have been an honest, church-going person but the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) and therefore all need a Saviour. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4v12)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2v8&9)

Dr. Craig prayed with George that afternoon and led him to the Lord – an experience which was so real this time and a life-changing moment which he would often refer to in later life. How glad he was for the day and hour in that hospital ward when he repented of his sin and asked the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart!

Over the years the Lord has comforted him in the ups and downs of life. In 1977 George and Betty retired from their Chemist shop business, as they had often been called out in the middle of the night because of bomb scares during the Northern Ireland troubles of the time, which they found very stressful. In later years George was especially comforted after the death of his beloved wife Betty, on Monday, 1st June, 1998. There is a great loneliness which is like no other when a beloved lifetime partner passes away… but how good and comforting to know the Lord Jesus, that “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24) Although missing Betty terribly, Uncle George maintained his outgoing and cheerful disposition; attending his church (Bluestone Methodist) regularly, involving himself with Scripture Union distribution and visiting and having lunch out with friends and loved ones, particularly his niece Ann. We also appreciate very much how he kept in touch regularly with my mother, Mrs Ella Hutchinson (his wife Betty’s sister) after the death of my father, Jack.

In later years George was still working with a church sponsored Container Ministry, sorting items to be sent to needy people all over the world in places as diverse as the Philippines, Brazil and many parts of Africa; in recent years he also received an award for his work in this ministry with Aqua Boxes – a system which gives a family pure water. Above is a photograph of Uncle George still working for this ministry in October 2013 when he was 91!

On a spiritual note… how good to know the One who said: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. “ (John 4v13&14)

Yes, those of us assembled here today will miss my Uncle George so much but how good to know that he is gone to be with the Lord Jesus Christ “which is far better.” If he was able to tell us today, other events in life would fade into insignificance and he would speak only of a decision to follow the Lord Jesus – a crucial decision which each soul must make on this side of eternity, in order to enjoy eternal life in the Lord’s Presence. It was good to have known the quiet unassuming Uncle George whom we all loved and talked with and I pray that his testimony to the Lord’s mercy and goodness in his life will continue to speak to and bless others long after his passing.

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“Little Children, let no man deceive you…”

February 16, 2016

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I wakened to the sound of a cold blustery wind this morning and pulling the curtains to my little bedroom window, viewed the effects of this invisible wind as it bent the ivy-covered trees in the garden. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3v8) Praise God for sending His only begotten Son into this world, that this world through Him might be saved…

As the grey morning drew on I was remembering what I was doing around five years ago. Unlike this cold and wintry day, it was a beautiful day with sunshine and a blue sky. As I write, I recall how I tearfully followed my Dad’s funeral cortege as it made its final journey down the avenue from the old country home; it was in this very dwelling place that I had trusted the Lord to save me many years previously.

This week, in order to honour his memory, I inserted a little memorial notice with a verse of scripture in the local newspaper of that area – the Ulster Gazette… “Hutchinson, Jack, called Home 16th February, 2011. Lovingly remembered by his children, Elizabeth, George, Grace, Christine and their families. Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:57.”

I was thinking earlier… now how best can I honour my father’s memory today? What good memories he left behind… above is a text which he painted on one of his sheds. I know for sure that he would love me to quote the verses and uphold the great truths that he held dear, as he walked through this scene of time.

I recently attended a meeting where the sermon was based upon the words of first John chapter 1. I quote verses 8-10 in this chapter… “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

I have absolutely no problem with these verses, even taken in isolation. The truth is plain and simple… if I have sin in my life, I cannot deceive myself by saying otherwise and if this is my state… then I would be a liar to say that I have not sinned. However, “He is faithful and just” – not only to forgive me my sins, but to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. To deny that this can truly happen in an instant is to deny His infinite power.

How good it is to read on… “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1John 2v1-4)

What victory over sin and death and hell is offered to us through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! Victory – not only in the next life, but in this transient and potentially troublesome one too! Note the important little word ‘if’ in 1John 2v1. The philosophy that those who have trusted the Lord to save them must then be weighed down by the chains of habitual sin for the rest of their lives is a highly dangerous one and those who preach it bear a fearful responsibility.

“Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1John 4v6&7)

These were the verses (and there are many many more!) that my Dad loved.

Today as I think of him, I know in my heart that he would want me to continue to propagate that which he took a stand on in this life. Above all he would desire that loved ones and acquaintances would apply it to their own lives. For all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save them to the uttermost and to keep them in the narrow way in their daily walk with Him, there are these promises:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortality must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortality shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The final verse of this chapter, I believe, would be Dad’s message to brothers and sisters still walking in this scene of time… “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, umoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for inasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15v51-58)

Praise God!

 

 

The Testimony of my mother Ella Hutchinson (née Turkington) (27th May 1929 – 13th December 2014)

December 29, 2014

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even our very demeanour and presence would make such a deep impression on people that it would lead to their trusting the Lord as Saviour? Mary Cordner, the Faith Mission pilgrim who led my father to the Lord, made such an impression on my mother, that she was later to pen this poem about her…

 

I met a soul so full of grace

And as I gazed upon her face,

I found it was not hard to see

Where she would spend eternity.

And sadly I did leave her there

But in her love for God did share,

And prayed that I might be like she –

So full of grace and charity.

 

 

For me it was an enormous privilege to have been brought up by parents who came to know the Lord as Saviour before their marriage. I shall always remember my mother’s generosity and hospitality to the many visitors to our home and to all the people who came to help my father on the farm and her goodness to one ill and elderly man in particular, as she washed sheets for him by hand and made meals for him. In fact my mother made such an impression on me in this respect, that I penned a poem about her for Mother’s Day once. References to all the lovely things she accomplished, as well as her talent for art are included in the poem which is inspired by the words of Proverbs 31v10-31. I have printed it as a tribute to her at the end of her testimony. This is my mother’s testimony, as related to me one evening in 2012…

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“I was brought up in the town of Portadown, County Armagh, in a loving home where Sunday was respected as the Lord’s Day and where my only sister and I were sent to Church and Sunday school, but it was not from the church pulpit that I found a witness or any words ever spoken to convict me of sin; rather this was to come from many a faithful witness of the Lord over the years.

I remember once when I was very young my family and I were on holidays for a week in Warrenpoint, a picturesque little coastal town in County Down. We were staying in one of those lovely old guesthouses along by the seafront and I shall never forget the meaningful question of the elderly man of that house… “Do you love the Lord Jesus?” These simple words touched me and made an impression on me at the time, filling my child’s mind with conviction. I remember turning and running back upstairs again to my room, where I knelt by the little bedstead and prayed to the Lord, as best as I knew how at the time. This special moment in my life has stayed with me over the years and I feel that it was then that the stirrings of conviction had begun in my heart.

The years passed with all their ups and downs for even children have these times in life and often I would have had thoughts of eternity. What would happen to me when I died? I was filled with dread at the thought of this. When I was around nine years old I took a disease called rheumatic fever which attacked me badly, leaving a legacy of ill health which still affects me today. I recall walking home from school holding onto the railings and then my mother kept me at home from school to nurse me back to health. I was nearly a year missing from school and I shall never forget my return there; I had missed so much and the teacher had no sympathy with me whatsoever, even under these circumstances. School became something of a nightmare for me, as I was never helped to catch up on everything that I had missed. When I think on those years now, how good it is to have a Saviour to lean on – and how miserable the lives of men, women and children who shoulder these burdens alone!

World War Two broke out in 1939 when we were in Newcastle, County Down on holidays at the end of the summer and I worried about my father being taken away from us to fight in the war against the Germans. I remember wondering whether we should we hide him in the attic! My father was an insurance agent in those days and worked very hard, cycling around the country to sell insurance. My mother worked hard too, as she looked after both her own mother and her mother-in-law until they passed away.

Another incident stands out in my mind; a simple event which was to fill me with conviction. I was around eleven or twelve when a tent mission came to the Seagoe area, just down the road from where I lived. I remember curiously cycling close to it and hearing the lovely singing of the opening hymn. A man called to me from the tent opening… “Won’t you come in?”

I, in turn made some excuse about not having a hat and he answered that this didn’t matter. I believe now that the man just wanted me to hear the gospel but I made my excuse because I knew instinctively, even then, that this meeting could mean that I had to greatly change my life in some way.

Some time later a clergyman called to the house one day to see whether I would like to be confirmed.  My mother opened the door to the gentleman in question and as soon as she did so I ran out the back door! Other young people may have viewed confirmation as just another ordinance of the church, but I sincerely felt that I could not go through with such a ceremony, unless I had truly made a commitment to the Lord. I honestly felt that to be confirmed would be wrong at the time and so I never was.

Eventually, at age fourteen I left school and started an apprenticeship with a hairdresser in Portadown. As I grew into a young woman, I would go out to the cinema occasionally on a Saturday, but apart from this, I didn’t socialise much. After some years, when I was just nineteen in the year 1948, I met a young man who was from the country near Armagh, whose name was ‘Jack Hutchinson.’ In those days the bridge over the River Bann was a favourite meeting place for young people and it was here that I was amused one evening to see Jack throwing a box of matches in the air. I think that perhaps he was trying to impress me but as it happened he dropped them!

Unknown to me, this young man had spotted me on other occasions too – once at a sports event when I was much younger and another time at some amusements. I was a bit of a ‘loner’ in those days and Jack told me later that he had noticed that I was standing alone, away from the crowds. Now that I had met Jack we would both go out together to the ‘Regal’ cinema on a Saturday night. I enjoyed his company very much but then something happened which was the start of a great change in Jack’s life. In the early summer of 1950 he started to go to a mission which was being run by an organisation known as the Faith Mission, in a little hall at Cloughan near Armagh. Jack had always attended his church faithfully, but now he told me that he knew that there was something missing in his life and one day he told me that he felt that he would like to have the assurance of being ‘saved.’ I was very curious about this mission and wanted to know what he meant, so I too went along with him one evening.

There I met Miss Cordner, the Faith Mission pilgrim who was later to lead Jack to the Lord and I have to say that this lady made a very deep impression on me, for she seemed so pure and full of goodness. This encounter awakened a yearning in me; I wanted, as the poem which I wrote about Miss Cordner goes, to ‘be like she… so full of grace and charity.’ Soon, one day Jack told me that he had been back to this mission again and that he had trusted the Lord to save him. Right then I knew that my life would need to change too if our relationship was to continue. I had been trying to read the Bible in those days, but starting in the Old Testament I found many things so difficult to accept and yet I knew that this was God’s Word and I wanted to be right with Him.

Conviction of sin lay heavily upon me in those days following Jack’s conversion. I remember praying and pleading with the Lord to make me right with Him. The conviction upon me was so deep that I would pray aloud in anguish, so much so that my sister Betty heard me. Seeing how disturbed I was, she gave me some advice… “Perhaps if you pray, meaning every word, it will work,” I recall her saying to me.

Then one night my parents and sister were not there and I was alone praying and pleading again in our living room. That evening I was kneeling at the left hand side of the fireplace and I cried unto the Lord: “Lord save me!” And praise God that evening I knew that something marvellous had happened; I had broken through to Him this time… He had answered my prayer and He had saved me and what is more, this time I believed that He had saved me! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

How I thank the Lord for that wonderful evening which was to set the scene for the rest of my life! In those days we didn’t know to write down the date of when we came to know the Saviour. I know that it was just a very short time after Jack’s salvation experience but I am uncertain as to exactly when. But I know where it happened and praise God, I know that He answered me when I cried out to Him that evening and I began to know His lovely Presence in my life. It makes me smile now when I think about how Jack and I were such an enthusiastic young couple, anxiously wanting to work for the Lord wherever He would lead us.

How our lives changed! “Behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5v17) Instead of going to the Regal on a Saturday night, we started to go to the young people’s meeting in Edenderry Presbyterian Church Hall in Portadown. Now, on the bus to work I felt that I should read the Bible openly as a witness to my fellow passengers. However, I remember a neighbour asking me a question about the Book of Revelation which I was unable to answer as I had only just started to read the Bible! On one occasion Jack and I were invited to give our testimonies in a mission hall in Tandragee and I remember that Jack took such a long time speaking that the person behind him on the platform pulled on his jacket! Those were good days – and although we were to have many ups and downs in the years that lay ahead, the Lord was faithful and kept us faithful to each other and to Him.

On May 27th 1952 (which was my 23rd birthday!) Jack and I were married, but returning from our honeymoon in Scotland I found quite a challenge awaited me! Here was I, a young woman of just twenty-three from an urban background going to live in an old house on a little farm at the end of a long winding country lane! But somehow the Lord undertook and I learned to lean on Him throughout it all. I was to learn that the only safe place is to be leaning on the Lord for all the negative situations that hit me in life.

One lovely memory stays with me to this day… I remember one day that I was hanging washing on the line at this first old country house we used to live in when suddenly I heard heavenly singing – like a chorus, or a choir of angels coming from the old Armagh Road. To this day I have no idea as to the source of the singing, but it is a beautiful and very special experience which I still share with loved ones today.

In our years in that old farm at Liskeyborough, before we eventually moved to Woodview, Jack and I had four healthy children: Elizabeth, George, Grace and Christine; each one of them is so special to me in their own unique way and I pray for my daughters and their husbands and my son and his wife, and all my grandchildren, that each soul will truly know the gracious Presence of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in their daily lives.

Throughout the years the Lord has been my faithful Friend – a never failing Friend whose love for me has given me strength to face tomorrow, whatever it may hold. I recall especially how the Lord undertook for me during my heart operation which occurred over twenty years ago. After a ‘touch and go operation’ a leaking heart valve was successfully replaced and the Lord wonderfully gave me many more years to be with my family and to see all of my grandchildren. On another occasion I had a serious hernia operation, after being in considerable pain and in recent years I have been in and out of hospital with bouts of pneumonia and have even been diagnosed with heart failure but my Saviour has been my strength and refuge throughout life’s battles. With my brothers and sisters in the Lord I can say… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)

How He has been with me and strengthened me through my own personal illnesses, pain and serious operations over a whole lifetime; through the illnesses of loved ones and through the recent loss of my dear Jack to whom I was married for nearly 60 years, when he passed away in February 2011. But I praise Him that after life’s short day, it is not the end! One day recently I looked up into the beauty of the sky and I thought… “Heaven is up there… that is where the dear Lord is, that is where Jack is – and that is where I am going!” Once when I was searching for words of reassurance for the Lord’s sanctifying power in my life, He gave me these words: “I am with you and shall be in you.”

Today I claim those words afresh as I look to Jesus, who gave His life that I might go to be where He is, when He calls to take me Home – Home where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes and where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying nor pain. (Revelation 21v4) “My Jesus if ever I loved thee, tis now!

 

For My Mum

(Proverbs 31v10-31)

Born in the lovely month of May

Yours was always the blossom…

Apple, Hawthorne and Cherry

Gracing Ireland’s hedgerows and trees,

Just as you graced every house

You ever lived in, making it home –

Home for the labourer, the rambler,

 The loved one.

Your food gathered from near and far

Fed so many mouths.

Your hands, baking bread,

Clicking needles, loving gifts for all –

Or giving beauty life on canvas.

Your voice, singing choruses of praise,

Speaking words of comfort

To another soul across the ward…

And once, so long ago,

You heard a choir of angels sing,

As you wearied not in well doing –

His promise that some day you would reap

The blossom you have sown.

Many daughters have done virtuously,

But you have excelled them all.

Elizabeth Burke

“Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8)

February 24, 2011

A few days before the end of 2010 my father took a severe stroke. What a shock that was and how my loved ones have rallied around for the seven weeks (to the very day) that he died! How much we shall miss him – especially my mother; yet I have that assurance in my heart that Dad is with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. On Saturday 19th February as Dad’s body made its last journey down the tree- lined avenue from his home, it was a beautiful day. New baby shoots were pushing their way up through the soil – the promise of another spring of growth and of the warmth of the sun, after winter’s dark cold sorrow. Yes, I cry as I write this, in the knowledge that I shall never see that dear face, or hear his voice on this earth again but I have such joy in serving my father’s risen Saviour who has given me that ‘peace which passes all understanding.’ Now I must go, in His strength, to proclaim His love for all mankind, for I am aware, more than ever of the brevity of life and of the need for souls to be ready for His coming again. I felt privileged to do the reading from 1Thessalonians 4v13-18 at Dad’s funeral service. With trembling hands I opened at this reading which commences with the words… “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  

After the long journeys made to his bedside these past seven weeks, I had been feeling drained and yet the Lord gave me the strength to climb the steps to the lectern, to do this reading. Hundreds of faces stared up – something which would leave me quivering under normal circumstances, as I am a naturally shy person, but I was doing this for the Lord – and His servant, my Dad. Afterwards my three daughters hugged me and I was greeted with the words: “Grandad would have been so proud of you.”

The two hymns which rang out that day were: “My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine” by W.R. Featherston and “Jesus the Name high over all” by Charles Wesley. I love the final verse of “My Jesus I love thee…”

“In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And I love the final verse of “Jesus the Name high over all…”

“Happy, if with my final breath

I might but gasp His name,

Preach Him to all, and cry in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Outside the church another sea of faces greeted me; some I had not seen since childhood and scarcely knew now. Hands shook mine, old acquaintances embraced me and a world of people from another era of my life floated around. It was almost surreal; I walked as if in a dream with my loved ones behind the funeral cortège, down the village street where I had walked as a child from school. Later at the ‘Orchard cemetery,’ in a lovely rural setting just outside the village of Richhill, my husband and daughters were a comfort as the interment took place. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the sun suddenly came out in full force, shining strongly and triumphantly through the clouds and I felt embraced by its kindly warmth. How I felt the Lord’s strong Presence and reassurance with me at that moment!

That night my eldest daughter had a dream; she wakened and said to me: “Mum, Grandad is alright. I dreamed that he hugged me and told me not to cry. In the dream he was tall, strong and healthy… and so happy. But when he hugged me, it was as if there was something separating us… ”

“Yes love,” I said, “he is alright. I know that.”

And yes, there is something separating us – the last enemy which is death. Perhaps I will face it some day – and maybe not, but this I know…

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4v16-18)

My prayer is that all who read would trust in the precious Name of my Dad’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!

Link to these hymns: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/j/e/mjesusil.htm

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/n/a/jnamhigh.htm

The Cremation…A True Story from my Life

July 11, 2010

I wrote this account shortly after the cremation ceremony of a loved one. For my part, I do not like, or agree with cremation, as it has traditionally been viewed as a heathen practice. However, regardless of all of this, the scriptures assure us that one day all bodies will rise again, whether they have been buried, drowned at sea or burned to ashes and scattered in the mountains. I found it to be a distressing day, but I thank God for His sustaining Presence, for the comfort found in the precious Name of His Son, Jesus and that the His Spirit assisted me to express my feelings about the experience…

Life rushed on around the cemetery, traffic piled up on the grey streets; all roads seemed to converge on the inevitable. Wrought iron railings surrounded the grey façade; no kindness was forthcoming in the dark interior; no presence of God, or warmth, or hope… The coffin was carried to the front of the church; the ceremony begun. Looking around, I saw a tear-stained face, pale and full of sorrow. The priest cleared his throat and began to speak. His words droned on; they were words without meaning; hollow emptiness dropping in the shadows of silent grief.

Outside the grey rain pelted against the windows, while the wind whined and blew a flurry of pink petals to the sodden earth. Beauty denied life in its prime, a victim of the winds of life… The priest continued to drone, his disinterested face a mask of sanctimonious solemnity. Duties were performed as a matter of course; payment for praying for the dead, whose eternity had already been sealed – like that gleaming coffin which sat on a marble altar.

The priest turned towards the coffin, in his hand a golden sceptre filled with holy water. He shook it frantically at the shining wood with its gleaming handles, his voice quivering with set prayers. A million tears coursed down the stained glass windows and I bowed my head in prayer. I prayed for those around me and for those who were not here – but never for the dead, for they have lived their lives and God is their Judge. There is but One Mediator, the man Christ Jesus.

When I opened my eyes, there was eerie music playing and great curtains were slowly closing on the gleaming coffin with its beautiful handles. Soon it disappeared from our view – forever. The curtains were closed without a chink and the coffin left to be burned on another day. The polished beauty of the wood and possibly the metal handles would not survive the furnace. Nothing would survive that furnace…

I looked up again to see that the priest had been replaced with someone who had offered to speak about the life of the deceased. A faint gleam of sunlight now beckoned from the rainbow window and I felt a shaft of warmth. His gentle words of love and prayer had not been learned. They came spontaneously from someone who had found the Greatest Love. He spoke of the positive aspects of the life of a loved one; then with tears he told of how he had spoken to him in his final hours… “I said to him: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. If there is nothing else you do on this earth, do this… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!”

A silence reigned as tears trickled down my face and the priest looked on in bewilderment, not understanding this marvellous simplicity. The speaker left the platform, the murmuring congregation arose and the wide doors opened swiftly for us to leave. Just outside the door I looked with compassion at another group of mourners waiting for another rushed ceremony, for another body whose soul had already gone into eternity…