Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: John Gill

Reverend Nicholas Mercer

30 April 2020

Today we meet together at the graveside to say good-bye to John Gill

We meet in the most extra-ordinary of circumstances, in the midst of a pandemic

We cannot meet together as we would like /and can only do so distanced from each other

Despite the limitations, we can still say so much of what needs to be said

First Karen and then Joe

Who have provided lovely testimonies to their grandfather John

We have heard about the family business and how the next generation are determined for it to continue along with John’s name

This in itself is a wonderful testimony and aspiration

Then we have heard from the Psalmist who wrote the beautiful words of Psalm 23

The psalm is so fitting in this wonderful setting of Bolton Abbey

We are surrounded by sheep and we can see the green pasture all around us

The psalmist tells us all that “even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death” we don’t need to fear anything – because God walks with us –

And we all need to remember that in this time of national crisis

And the location itself speaks to us all as well

The monks who came here originally knew this was a special place

That is why they chose to build a church on this site

That church still stands today, majestic as a ruin

But also a living, breathing church at the same time

There are places on earth which are called “thin places” and this is one of them

This is a term from Celtic Christianity

So called because they believed that in such places the distance between heaven and earth is wafer thin

And where the heavenly realm seems so much closer – as it does at this funeral

As John is buried with his ancestors

We meet here today in the third week of Easter

In this period, we remember the first disciples two thousand years ago

They were in the midst of what they believed to be the biggest tragedy of their lives and were distraught

But out of tragedy, out of the empty tomb, came the Resurrection   

Even though the disciples were locked down and even though they feared for their lives

Once they realised that they were in the presence of the risen Christ, they had new resolve

Not just to go on with their lives

But to live afresh with confidence and joy 

And so today, as we commit John’s body to be buried

Don’t look down but look up

Look and see the Resurrection proclaimed in the wonderful East Window that overlooks over John final resting place

A testament to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

A testament to the hope and resolve of all HIS disciples

And a reminder to all of us that, we too, live in the light and life of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ