Tuesday, December 20, 2011

20th December

Well then, I’ve managed to keep myself busy all day today. And that’s exactly what I need at the moment. So it was the early morning school run that started my day off again and as my youngest is now 24 it’s been a good few years since I had to do that particular task. One more day and they break up for Christmas and hopefully they’ll have their transport problems resolved before long anyway. And it’s fascinating to consider how dependent upon cars we are. It would be quite impossible for my daughter to get to work after delivering her youngest to school within the required timeframe. And taxis are far too expensive to use all the time, so that’s why grandads exist… isn’t it? But surely one of life’s greatest blessings is to have a beautiful 9 year old grand-daughter smile in your direction first thing in the morning. Then this afternoon I collected my daughter from work early enough to attend the school Christmas performance at a nearby church. I took my video camera and had fun trying to capture a few minutes for my next family DVD. I think it’s great that in this world of multicultural, political correctness - and all the rest of it – when you hear so many stories of Christianity being erased from public life, that my grand-daughter has been given a place at a Church of England primary school. The Christmas production was a straight down the line Nativity story with fairly modern music. One song in particular took me back maybe 20 years to a time when I visited Birmingham’s NEC for Graham Kendrick’s introduction of Make Way for Christmas. Our church band then crammed to learn the dozen or so new songs for our own Christmas event. I seem to remember we had rather less than a couple of months to rehearse music and create drama and for three of those weeks I was in Ghana… which was crazy as I headed the whole thing up! Those were the days. Anyway it was good to hear ‘Tonight’ used in a school environment after all these years.

Walking into the church was a serious emotional challenge. It’s a very traditional looking Church of England, complete with stained glass and a tower type of building; and it has the only graveyard with vacant plots near to where I live. So when I went with my kids to discuss funeral arrangements for Jane, a few days after she died, having a burial here was an option we had to work through. And of course it’s a no-brainer that whilst walking through the church grounds I revisit that decision and start second guessing myself. There’s no point I know as today is not the day of decision. That’s gone, done and dusted as it were and there’s no going back. But what did Jane really want? What is actually the ‘right’ thing to have done? Ugh! It’s horrible trying to work through such nonsense in my muddled thinking. Thinking back to that decision I recall considering a nearer Church as being a real option for burial. We’ve been there a few times over the years for things like a midnight Christmas meeting and found it very warm and welcoming. The 12th century building is great and the graveyard very peaceful. But it has no vacant plots. Can I say this respectfully… I do not ‘like’ the feel of the church I was at today and the grounds are equally unattractive. The people who attend and what happens there may well be fantastic and I expect they honour God in a wonderful way. But I just don’t know them at all so I have no idea. I couldn’t face up to the thought of Jane being laid to rest in such a place. So it didn’t happen that way and we created a very personal and different act of remembrance to suit us as a family. We made the right decision.

But walking into the church and then by chance sitting in the same very draughty pew as exactly twelve months ago was tortuous. I held Jane’s hand on that occasion. And it snowed a little afterwards. And she enjoyed our grand-daughters event. And actually… so did I, both then and today despite having to hold back the tears.

Matthew 16:17-18 (Abbr.) ‘Jesus replied…  I will build my church’ (NLT)

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