Erm…… There’s No Hole……
A while ago in the blog I wrote about the privilege of taking the funeral service for an ex-student of mine – a young mum who I had sat down with and planned her funeral the year before she died. A couple of weeks ago I was to preside over the interment of her ashes at St Euny in Redruth.
Because I expected quite a group, there were about 20 folks who gathered, I planned to begin the service in the church lighting candles around the container with the ashes while we shared memories, read a psalm and said some prayers before heading up to the churchyard for the interment. I had enlisted our newest Reader, Jason, to assist – a good move because he has a key to st Euny and I would be sure of the Church being open.
Out early dog walking I made sure I passed the churchyard and the likely interment spot to check where it would be……. But I could find no evidence of any preparation by the stone mason. “never mind,” I thought, “plenty of time- he is probably going to come in the hour efore the service begins.”
I arrived three quarters of an hour before the start time of 9am and still no sign of the mason. The family began arrive……..
As ZOOM morning prayer was at 9 and I knew that Caspar, the rector was leading that morning I quickly logged on and explained before they began. Caspar in his normal phlegmatic calmness sai he had a spade in the garage and would come down and dig a hole if nothing had happened by the end of morning prayer.
Andy, the husband of the Anna whose ashes we were burying arrived and he tried to phone the mason who it turned out was on holiday in Croatia! So it was a message to Caspar who said he would message when the hole was ready. Jason, luckily had discovered the commemorative slab wrapped in sack leaning against a nearby tree.
So the little service in the church grew with not only lighting our candles but also blowing them out with some ceremony before leaving the church. Luckily I have a store of extra poems and readings I the back of my funeral folder which meant I had enough material to keep going until the message arrived and we were able to head for the church yard.
The family and friends were all amazingly supportive and felt that the occasion had been very special. You can imagine my personal prayers of thanks!!
Lesson learned about checking fully for each occasion- I hate to think what would happen if a grave had not been prepared!
The Burial of Ashes
Introduction and Welcome and we invite those present gather around the ashes.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Though we are dust and ashes, God has prepared for those who love him a heavenly dwelling place. As we prepare to commit ANNA’s ashes to the earth, we entrust ourselves and all who love God to his loving care.
We light candles around the ashes as we listen to one of Anna’s favourite songs “a thousand years” by Christina Perri .
A reading from Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You mark out my journeys and my resting place and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
You encompass me behind and before and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go then from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me and the light around me turn to night,’
Even darkness is no darkness with you; the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.
I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, my soul knows well.
The Sharing of memories
Let us pray: Heavenly Father,
we thank you for all those whom we love but see no longer.
As we remember ANNA in this place,
hold before us our beginning and our ending,
the dust from which we come and the death to which we move,
with a firm hope in your eternal love and purposes for us,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Reading: 1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
A time of prayer ending with the words Jesus gave his disciples:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
We process to the place of burial
God our Father, in loving care your hand has created us,
and as the potter fashions the clay you have formed us in your image. Through the Holy Spirit you have breathed into us the gift of life. In the sharing of love you have enriched our knowledge of you and of one another. We claim your love today, as we return Anna’s ashes to the ground in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.
In the name of the all-powerful Father, in the name of the all-loving Son, in the name of the all-pervading Spirit:
we pray that you be free from dependence upon human ties,
that you may free as the wind, soft as sheep’s wool, straight as an arrow; and that you may journey into the Heart of God,
Lay the Ashes as these words are said
Into the darkness and warmth of the earth we lay you down.
Into the sadness and smiles of our memories we lay you down.
Into the cycle of living and dying and rising again we lay you down.
May you rest in peace, in fulfilment, in loving.
May you run straight home into God’s embrace.
God of hope, grant that we, may be united in the full knowledge of your love and the unclouded vision of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the infinite and glorious Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, direct our life in good works, and after our journey through this world grant us eternal rest with all the saints. Amen.