I saw these words on a window poster recently, combined with all the colours of the rainbow. It’s a line from a favourite hymn – ‘Great is thy faithfulness’.

It’s one of the hymns we sang at my mum’s funeral. It was a few years ago now – but it still reminds me of the sense of thankfulness and celebration alongside the sorrow and loss we felt, as we stood in the church to sing that great hymn.

Not being there
One of the toughest things for many people in these weeks has been not being able to attend the funerals of families, friends and neighbours. So a sad and painful time is made even worse.

Covid-19 means that our church buildings are closed, and the number of mourners in the crematorium or at graveside services is limited to just the very closest family. Which means that lately I’ve taken funerals with just two people, or seven or eight, nine at the most. And sometimes with no-one at all. Because even the few who would have been allowed to attend all needed to stay at home.

At your service
Although some of our clergy are themselves confined to home, I want people to know that they can still have a vicar take the funeral, whether that’s at the crematorium or at the graveside in the churchyard or in the cemetery.

And I also want people know that they will be able to have a thanksgiving and celebration service in church for the person who’s died. It’s just that it can’t be now. But the time will come when our churches will be open – and even if that’s not for a while, what are weeks or months compared with eternity? When we pray, time and eternity intersect: past, present and future all meet in the one moment, all are held in God’s hand.

Rev’d Lorna Brabin-Smith
Rector of Branston with Nocton and Potterhanworth
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