You may already know that our part of North Norfolk has the most elderly population in the whole of the UK.
In Sheringham, we regularly enjoy the opportunity to celebrate with people who have reached 100 years of age!
An inevitable consequence of an elderly population is lots of funeral services. One of the greatest privileges I have as a Vicar is to conduct funeral services and support bereaved families and friends in their loss. Amidst our sorrow at the loss of a loved one, the opportunity to remember, mourn, give thanks and celebrate the life of the deceased is central to saying ‘farewell’.
During the lockdown period, funerals are different. Church services are not possible at the moment; the number of mourners is restricted at the crematorium or graveside and loved ones often can’t travel across the country to attend services. However, the wonders of technology are allowing people to be present via webcasts and FaceTime and, importantly, words of scripture continue to support us at our time of greatest need.
This Sunday, our Gospel reading is taken from John (Chapter 14 verses 1-14). This piece of scripture has brought comfort to generations of bereaved people and continues to do so today. Jesus assures his disciples that there is room in heaven for us all and that he will be there to lead us to heaven when our time comes.
Many different things can bring us comfort when a loved one dies. Memories inevitably play an important part, but so do poems, music, stories, photographs and belongings. The words of scripture, the words of Jesus, also bring us hope and comfort at our time of greatest need.
Sadly, in the last 6 weeks I have led an increasing number of COVID-related funeral services. Today, I ask you all to pray for all those who have lost their battle with the virus in our local communities; those who have died of so many other causes; and all those who mourn, give thanks and celebrate that their loved ones are now safe in the arms of Almighty God.
When you clap for Key Workers on Thursday evening, remember that God loves you all and please don’t forget to also remember our local Funeral Directors who through their care, attention and love are seeking to bring comfort and assurance in our times of greatest need.