Welcome + Worship + Witness
AC Flather

The Rector: Sermon at the Memorial Service for AC Flather

Friday 19 November 2021
Memorial Service of AC Flather

Revd Nicholas Mercer

We meet today to remember our brother in Christ, Christopher Flather

Known as “AC”, he was, husband of Carol/ father of Henry and Emma

An accountant by profession and someone who, by all accounts, lived life to the full pursuing his passions for golf, skiing and latterly sailing

A man who also had a keen sense of humour and a loved a good glass of wine

He was seemingly taken from us too early – whatever that might mean in the fullness of time

Unfortunately, I did not know “AC”

Even though we attended the same school, our times did not overlap

I am not a golfer or sailor either

But I do like a glass of good wine – and I would have liked to have shared one with him had the chance arisen

Hold that thought…

In the Church we are currently in a season of Remembrance

I have just come back from Winchester where I preached the sermon for Remembrance Sunday

And just two weeks earlier, we celebrated the feast of All Souls

Where we remembered the faithful departed – who are no longer with us – but in God’s Heavenly Kingdom

We are right in the middle of the season of Remembrance

And there could not be a more appropriate time to held a Memorial Service

Remembering and Remembrance 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, in what is arguably the most important event of Jesus’ life, at the Last Supper, Jesus says “Do this in remembrance of me”

Both stories gives us a clue as to how, in my view, 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 “AC”

His family life, his (sublime) golf shots, being at the helm of a boat, parties, celebrations as evidenced by the photographs in the order of service

Of course there is so much more

But “AC” was clearly a convivial man that everyone knew and loved and we give thanks for our memories today

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

A sort of post-it sticker on the fridge

It is something far more

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

Re-made, re-newed and re-deemed – by being in Christs’ company in heaven

Or having a foretaste of heaven in the Blessed Sacrament

Which brings together both past, present and the future at the same time

I heard a lovely story of another OU called Giles Fraser, with whom I did overlap at school

Today he is vicar of St Mary’s in Newington

Having formerly been a Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral where he spectacularly fell from grace for siding with the poor (only in the Church of England)

However, like many clergy, he was faced with the problem of falling numbers

And so decided one Sunday to try something different

He decided to announce that, instead of the usual communion wine, he would celebrate with a first rate vintage instead

I don’t remember the wine but let’s imagine that it was a Chateau La Tour

The results were spectacular and the numbers swelled at the chance to savour this wine, par excellence

But the story makes a deeper point than simply attracting wines buffs and the curious to a Church one Sunday

It is about meeting together in God’s heavenly kingdom and the foretaste of that Kingdom in our earthly lives

The wine is indeed spectacular- and available for us all each and every week of our lives

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 Remembrance 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.

We pray together, both living and departed

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

“AC” – we will all share that glass of wine together again, one day

Hold that thought…