Thursday, November 27, 2008

For now, Farewell

I'm not sure what to say, yet I have to say something before moving to other topics on the blog. Yesterday, I was privileged to be asked to take part in the funeral service for Constable James Magee. As I said before, James was my best friend in Primary School as we grew up.

I've taken other funerals, and thought that they were hard enough - even when I didn't really know the person. But yesterday was the hardest of my life and ministry. Dromore Cathedral was packed full, with many more outside. The last time I was in the Cathedral, was the night I was ordained, and here I was back for a terribly sad occasion. As well as the cathedral being full, there were crowds outside, as well as the obligatory media circus.

I never imagined that just a few months into my ordained ministry I would be helping at the very public funeral of a childhood friend. Yet it happened. Stephen Lowry led the service so well - his pastoral heart shone through as he found words to comfort, recalling James perfectly, and also in sensitively proclaiming God's word. Trevor McKeown and Gareth Harron read lessons, and all three were supportive as I prepared to lead the prayers.

I will never forget the funeral - images and sounds are lodged in my memory. The sound of the policemen marching, and carrying the coffin. The sound of the hymns being sung. The sound of weeping and wailing. The Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, laying a wreath on the grave. Another PSNI officer presenting James' cap and gloves to the parents.

Yet now, when the spotlight is off the family, now is when it will particularly hit hard for the family - please continue to be praying for Freda and Bawn, Sarah and Rachel, and the whole family.

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