Welcome + Worship + Witness
Barbara Walker Sharpe

The Rector: Sermon at the Funeral of Barbara Walker Sharpe

8 December 2021
Funeral of Barbara Walker Sharpe
Revd Nicholas Mercer

Today we meet to say our goodbyes to Barbara

Dearly beloved wife

Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Mother-in-law, cousin and friend

“A kind and generous soul”

She was for many years a member of this parish

Unfortunately, I am relatively new to the parish so did not know Barbara

However, I found that Barbara was still in our phone directory

So, either the phone directory had not been updated for a very long time/or it was not so long ago that she departed for Lytham St Anne

Barbara died nearly a month ago on the 11th November

Her death fell in a season of Remembrance –

Just twelve days before her death we celebrated the feast of All Souls

And immediately afterwards we had Remembrance Sunday

Her death fell right in the middle of the season of Remembrance

Which is, in part, why we are assembled here today at Bolton Priory – to remember Barbara’s life

Remembering plays an important part in the Christian faith

The last words Jesus hears in his earthly life are “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom”

Similarly, at the Last Supper, Jesus to his disciples, says “Do this in remembrance of me”

Both stories gives us a clue as to how Christians are meant to approach Remembrance

First and foremost, to re-member something or someone stands in contrast to the word dis-member

When we dis-member something, we pull it apart

But when we re-member something we put it back together

And we do that today

Today we put back together all our lovely memories of Barbara

However, the last words Jesus hears, and those used at the Last Supper are not just a simple reminder not to be forgotten

It is something far more

It is about inviting us to be re-made, re-newed and re-deemed

Re-made, re-newed in our memories

And re-deemed – by being in Christs’ company in heaven

Barbara will be in God’s arms today as we commend her to Almighty God

Remembrance brings together both past, present and the future at the same time – and makes everything whole again

And we rejoice

But whereas Barbara’s death fell in the season of Remembrance, her funeral service falls in the season of Advent

We straddle both seasons

But Advent also speaks to us all here today

Advent is a season when we wait and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ into our lives

· A season of waiting

· A season of preparation

· And a season reminding us all of the ultimate destination in all our lives

Our final destination when we meet Christ face to face as the shepherds did on Christmas morning

Christmas so often gets drowned out by the commercialism and preparation for the festivities

And whilst it right to celebrate the birth of the Christ, we must not lose sight of Christ himself

Similarly, when we come together today to remember Barbara, we must also not lose sight of her Christian journey here on earth

She was a faithful servant of the Church all her life

Someone who faithfully made her communion and tirelessly worked for the Church too

She journeyed as a Christian all her life and today she completes that journey

When she is commended to God and committed to His loving care

She has fulfilled her Advent journey

And today that wait is over

Today is not so much a day of sorrow, but, like Christmas itself, a day for rejoicing

Whenever you think of Advent, think of Barbara and your own journey of faith

The Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission (ARCIC) said

“The believer’s pilgrimage of faith is lived out with the mutual support of all the people of God. In Christ the faithful, both living and departed, are bound together in prayer”

This beautifully articulates the final Christian dimension of today’s service which can be so easily lost

As a Christian community, we are not just a communion of the living but also a communion of the departed.

In our journey on this earth to see the Christ child

We worship together, both living and departed

We pray together, both living and departed

And we celebrate Holy Communion together, both living and departed

And we will, one day, all be in God’s Kingdom together,

re-made, re-newed and re-deemed