Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: Sermon at the funeral of Richard Bull

Today we meet to say good bye to our brother in Christ Richard Bull

Husband, father, grandfather and loyal servant of the Church

We have heard a very moving tribute from his children (Anna, Alex, Matt, Chris and Judith) about Richards’ eighty six years here on earth

His wonderfully full and rich life

And we give thanks to God today for all the blessings he has received from God and the blessings he has bestowed on others during the course of his life

Richard’s death on the 12th January fell just after the Feast of Epiphany

And his funeral today falls just before the Feast of Candlemas which we celebrate on Sunday

Both his death and funeral fall within the season of Epiphany

And this season speaks to us of Richard’s life in Christ today

The Feast of Epiphany is the day we remember the visit of the Wise Men to see the Christ Child

It marks the last day of Christmas – which this year fell on the 6th January – less than a week before Richard died.

On the Sunday just before Richard’s death, we recalled the Wise Men journeying from the East and presenting the Christ Child with Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Today Mary and Joseph would probably have live streamed the event from the stable

But the story of the Wise Men is, in a sense, the story of all our lives of faith

We are all on journey – from the moment of our baptism – to the moment of our death

We all journey to see Christ – face to face – just as the Wise Men did two thousand years ago

And make our homage to him – as Richard does today

But the journey of the Wise Men reminds us that the journey is not easy

It requires stamina and resolve

Like them, not only do we need stamina and resolve on our earthly journey, but we have to act wisely and take sensible precautions on the way

As we do today – as we say our good- byes

But Richard’s death and funeral is also bordered by the Feast of Candlemas which we celebrate this coming Sunday

And “celebration” is an appropriate word both for the Feast Day and for Richard’s funeral

The Feast [of Candlemas] recalls the moment when Christ is presented in the Temple, forty days after his birth

And we are introduced to Simeon and Anna

They are two old people who have waited all their lives for this moment and recognise the Christ child instantly

Anna, we are told, is eighty four years old and Simeon too is of advanced years

Richard himself was eighty six years old

But having seen the Christ Child, Simeon acknowledges that, he can now die in peace -just as Richard died in peace

It is a beautiful story from where we derive the canticle Nunc Dimittis

And the words are so appropriate for this funeral

Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people

A light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of thy people Israel

Like Simeon and Anna, Richard has been in the Temple all his life

Having born witness to the Christ, he too can proclaim the light of Christ, and now depart in peace

Like the Wise Men before him, his journey now concludes as we commit him to Almighty God

The final thing I wish to mention is Richard’s chosen reading for his funeral today

The passage from John’s Gospel

Through which, I have no doubt, he wanted to speak to us all today

As it says in the reading – and Richard says to us – “Do not let your hearts be troubled”

Richard tells us, as Christ told his disciples, “In my Father’s dwelling house there are many dwelling places…and I have prepared a place for you”

He concludes, “I am the way, the truth and the life”