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The Rector: Funeral Sermon for Elizabeth Hawkins

Funeral Sermon
Elizabeth Hawkins
Wednesday 4th May

We meet here today to say goodbye to Elizabeth

Wife, mother and grandmother

Resident of Halton East – which falls within the parish of Bolton Abbey

Dearly loved by all those who knew you and clearly sadly missed too

It is not easy being a Rector

Not least because you are so often called upon to say words on behalf of those you barely knew

Or indeed had never met at all – which is the case today

However, I had the pleasure of seeing Tanya’s letter to her Mother well in advance of this service

As well as the Eulogy – and I was very touched by the content in both

Which radiated love and affection and spoke of a full and varied life – a life lived to the full

Which is a wonderful testament to Elizabeth’s life

But two things in particular stood out for me

The first was Elizabeth going to finishing school in Switzerland

I don’t think it is a line I have had to read out before at a funeral

And very much belongs to a bygone age – although I noted that Tanya also went to a finishing school called Evendine

I took the trouble to look it up and noted that it was in Malvern

And that its original objective was

“to remedy girls’ ignorance of ‘Household matters’, their lack of knowledge being the result of the ‘regular staff of servants’ in their own homes doing all the work”.

No wonder the school in Lausanne was “to finish her off” as Kevin stated

But as well as the reference to finishing school, I also loved the references to mischievousness

The story of the poachers is a delight as is the story of the budgie

I didn’t know budgies could speak!

I also loved the problems that Elizabeth had with mobile phones – a problem I share too!

Given all the joy that Elizabeth brought to the world, this is a very difficult goodbye and the pain of passing must be very acute to all of you here today

However, whether religious or not, this is a final journey we all must make

We are all on the same journey and, to state the obvious, we cannot avoid the end of our lives

But, from my perspective as a clergyman, this is not a moment for sadness

But a moment of joy

This is not the end for Elizabeth but the start of a new chapter in her new life in God’s heavenly Kingdom

Elizabeth died in Holy Week

Just after Palm Sunday and just before Easter

Some of you may have been to Church over Holy Week and know the story of Christ’s final days here on earth

We tell the story every year – not just because it is at the heart of our faith, but because it is also a paradigm through which we can view our own earthly lives

The story of Holy Week is our story too

We generally all enjoy the triumph of our own earthly lives which is often accompanied by adulation of the crowds

And this is very much the case today of a wonderful life blessed by God

But, whoever we are, we all make those final few days to the cross

This is the harsh reality of our earthly realm

But, as we all probably know from Holy Week, the darkness of Good Friday, becomes the joy of Easter Day

The day we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ

It is very hard to conceive of a life beyond our own

But the fact that Christ rose from the dead gives hope to us all

For is Christ rose from the dead, then we know that death has been conquered and that there is a life beyond our own

As it says in the reading from the Book of Revelation

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”

This new dawn awaits Elizabeth today as we commend her into God’s loving arms

And commit her body to be cremated accompanied by God’s blessings

And so today we say good bye to a woman who was

“Pretty, independent, wonderful, honest, mischievous, hard-working, generous, fun” and so much more

And what more fitting words than at the end of the letter

“We love you, miss you and you will always be in our hearts”

“God bless, be happy, safe journey and please don’t cause too much havoc up there”

In the name etc

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home[a] of God is among mortals. He will dwell[b] with them; they will be his peoples,[c] and God himself will be with them;[d] 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.