Funeral Reading: 1 Corinthians 15
A reading from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, when he was asked questions about death and the resurrection of the body…
Someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”
How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead:
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
What is sown in sorrow, it is raised in glory;
What is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
What is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, and when this happens, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
Yes, thanks be to God! He gives us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Funeral Sermon: Rebekah
Text: 1 Corinthians 15
There is, indeed, a great deal of sadness in this Church today, as we gather together to lay to rest the earthly body of Rebekah – Bex to many of you – and to commend her soul to Almighty God. As we gather to comfort and support one another, to share stories – and pictures of Beck’s huge range of facial expressions, thanks to Matt, we should be reminded of that special person and the special place she had in the lives of all, whether she was to you a daughter, a sister, a beloved grandchild, relative, friend, a fellow service user or as one who received care from you.
As we have heard from Joe, Rebekah was a unique and strong individual: clearly “a tough cookie”, strong willed and resilient. As Joe mentioned, it turns out she was a bit of a Metal fan! With a beautiful smile and bright engaging eyes, as we see in all these wonderful images on her casket, I know she had a special place in the hearts of you all.
Lovingly cared for at home for many years, she then benefitted greatly from the care at Dame Hannah, and I know enjoyed many of the varied activities that service users participated in; from having her own space to trips to the theatre – I understand the Dreamboys were quite popular – the circus and the cinema, pamper nights and being in a supportive environment that enabled her to be a part of a peer group, something important to any young person.
S. Paul spoke to the people of the city of Corinth about all kinds of things, including the significance of life and the relevance of death. Although in this age we do not speak readily of death, we must recognise that death is a part of life. No matter how many years we have on this earth, we all face it; and naturally the Corinthians sought answers to their concerns about what next?
He speaks of this earthly life, and especially this earthly body as a seed: planted in the earth and ready to be transformed, to be conformed into the resurrection body of Christ. This resurrected body of Christ still bore the marks of the nails on his wrists, side and feet, but was utterly changed by the power of God and the victory of the resurrection.
I’m not going to promise you my friends that in Heaven Bex is fully restored to something she wasn’t on this earth, that disability in whatever form is ended, because that would demean the Bex you all encountered, knew and loved. Disability is not a failure in life, but a different journey through it. It carries with it numerous frustrations, tears and challenges, but Bex does not deserve to be written off as something less, but rather valued for who she was. No less a daughter, no less a sister, but (as we all are) a valued individual and a child of God. God values and loves all of us in this world and in the next, and as God gathers her to himself, she is showered in the heavenly love that was shown to her through family, friends and all those who cared for her on this earth.
Although Death is a physical loss to all of us here, and there will be a Bex-shaped hole in your lives from now on, we need to recognise that her death is not the end. Your relationship with Bex is not ended, but it is changed, also transformed, but she still remains with us: in our memories, in our love and in our prayers.
The victory of Christ over sin and death in the triumph of the resurrection points us to an everlasting hope that is available to us all, whether we actively proclaim our Christian faith or whether faith is a private matter, something kept to oneself. Surrounded by the love of God and the company of all heaven, Bex’s life and legacy will stay with you: you will each carry a little piece of Bex with you until the end of your own lives; until we are once again all together in the presence of God, where I am quite sure, the Metallica will be turned up to Eleven.