For Those Who Walked With Us…

(Jan Richardson)

For those who walked with us,

this is a prayer.

For those who have gone ahead,

this is a blessing.

For those who touched and tended us,

who lingered with us while they lived,

this is a thanksgiving.

For those who journey still with us

in the shadows of awareness,

in the crevices of memory,

in the landscape of our dreams,

This is a benediction.

Rev. Dyllis welcomed the congregation with the words, “We have come together this morning to remember our loved ones who have died and to give thanks in our hearts, for all they meant to us.  In bringing our remembrance before God, we seek His gift of hope.”

Themes of love and loss, heartbreak and hope were very much in evidence in the readings, prayers and hymns.  The atmosphere was sombre and reflective, offering time and space for people to engage with their own grief journey.

The names of those who have died in the last twelve months were read aloud.  For the newly bereaved, this was a highly charged emotional moment, for those further on in grief, it was most poignant.  All were united by the experience of loss.  All had their own memories.  All bound together in that moment of remembrance. 

“Let us commend them and all our loved ones, to God’s mercy and goodness and let us surround them now with our own compassion and love as we hold their petal in our hands.”

The rose petals were collected during the hymn ‘Such Love’ and then sprinkled on the altar.  It was a moving, symbolic gesture, a gathering up of all those we have loved and lost, gently scattered over the ‘Lord’s table’.

A prayer of faith brought the service towards its conclusion:

In the rising of the sun and its going down.

We remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter.

We remember them.

In the opening of the buds and in the warmth of summer.

We remember them.

In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn.

We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends.

We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength.

We remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share.

We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us.

As we remember them

Rest eternal, grant unto them.

And let light perpetual shine upon them.

Before leaving the church, the congregation were invited to go up to the altar and light a candle in memory of those they had lost.  As members came up, Paul played music by the faithful and dying JS Bach based on a hymn tune set to the words, “Before your throne I now appear.”

The children’s Sunday Club had their own special service led by Gill.  The little ones were taken on a journey, which began by looking at some fallen autumnal leaves and then progressed to a discussion of seasonal events and celebrations such as Halloween, All Souls and All Saints.

A poem entitled ‘The Gospel Pumpkin’ was used to explore some Christian symbols and helped the youngsters decorate their pumpkin shapes accordingly.  The little ones looked at different sources of light – torches, lighthouses, lanterns and candles, before arriving at the conclusion that Jesus is the light of the world and he is able to illuminate the darkness and light up the way as we journey through life.

Tiny gift boxes, containing a chocolate and a message were made by the children and presented to those who have experienced a bereavement this year.

All in all, it was a memorable and emotional service for the young, the elderly and all those in between.