It was a bit of a sad occasion yesterday as I attended a funeral. Tom, the person who had died, was my friend’s father. As we were friends during our teens, it was one of those occasions where you catch up with people you haven’t seen for many years.
As I sat there and heard some of the stories from Tom’s life, the memories came flooding back. I was reminded of some of his kindness to myself and others in our group of friends. We would often meet up at his house to watch a program on TV, we would always be made to feel welcome and would settle down to enjoy it. I’m ashamed to say that it never once occurred to me that we were watching the only TV in the house and that Tom had ‘made himself scarce’ to give us some space.
Tom’s early life had been difficult following the death of both of his parents and he spent some years in care. On one occasion, as a young man, he was walking into the city centre passing the front of the City Temple when one of the leaders of the church approached him and invited him to the service. Tom declined but promised that he would come the following week. The next Sunday the man was outside waiting for Tom and reminded him of the promise. Tom walked in that day and the rest as they say is history. He was baptised in 1943 and was part of the team that would stay in the church during bombing raids in case of incendiary bombs. He may even have been on duty when the church was hit by a high explosive bomb.
He was a faithful member through all of the changes that go on in all churches, always there faithfully serving his Lord. He died a week last Sunday, in the City Temple, just before the start of the service, surrounded by his friends in the place he loved.
Last night, after Raze had finished, some of us spent a few minutes chatting. As we started moving towards the door, the talking continued but changed subtly as it became one conversation. The young people were comparing where their parents live, ‘my dad lives here’ and ‘my dad lives there.’ In the middle of this, Stuart said simply ‘my dad’s in glory.’ These are not cheap words for us. They are words of hope. Hope based on the promises of Jesus. Stuart’s dad, like Tom, had put his trust in Jesus Christ as a young man. Jesus said,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
That was good enough for Tom and for Graham. It’s good enough for me.