Over the Ayrshire hills my car cut through Friday’s fog towards the new crematorium between Largs & Kilbirnie, myriad images bouncing around my soul. The 9am quiet committal service came before Fullarton ConneXions’ celebration of Dr Elspeth Campbell’s 92 years, obstetrician extraordinaire who helped deliver half of Ayrshire.
For 8 days family & friends kept vigil by Elspeth’s bed as she breathed her last, laterally unsure of how aware she was of our presence, but sure that God’s Love cushioned & comforted her. St Paul describes the groans of our dying to pains of childbirth, delivered into a new world of eternal peace, purpose & joy (Romans 8). Like midwives we held Elspeth’s hand, kissed her forehead, spoke fondly with humour & tenderness, & prayed for her deliverance sooner than later.
Elspeth’s window in Abbottsford Care Home, Ardrossan looks out to ferries travelling to & from Arran, with its magnificent mountain range. We imagined Jesus carrying his beloved daughter from this earthly room to a heavenly mansion, waking up to draw curtains for a vista to eclipse all earthly views (John 14).
The same fog, which postponed the Killie v Motherwell game, made the journey to the 9am start a little confusing with a few wrong turns, but fortunately I made it on time. Elspeth suffered severe memory loss and asked,“How long have I been away with the fairies?”Sheena’s humorous reply was met with a knowing smile, “Fortunately the fairies are able to bring you back Elspeth.”The opposite of ‘remember’ is not ‘forget’ but ‘dismember’ and praise God Elspeth was kept in touch with her true identity by family, friend & church family. Jesus said, “She who confesses (remembers) me before people I will also confess (remember) before my Father, who is in heaven.”(Matthew 10).
90+ gathered in the Fullarton sanctuary to praise God & celebrate Elspeth’s faithful & fruitful life, in the sure knowledge that God’s Love had cleared Elspeth’s fog for reunions and fresh opportunities to prove God’s loving presence & purpose. Colour, Love & laughter graced both services & journeys, overflowing into ConneXions Café for refreshments, which included Elspeth’s favourite ‘ice cream’.
Humanist & civil celebrants now lead many of our funerals. I respect the beliefs & lack of belief, with which many face death today. However, I also mourn the lack of momentum & hope, with which many face mortality, unable to see beyond a ‘dead-end’ or grasping for illusive hope in fantasy & sentiment. I feel a responsibility to be more zealous & creative in sharing the Good News of Jesus with our day & age. The life, death & funeral services of faithful believers & servants of Christ help me appreciate the richness of the Everlasting Christian Story of which we can join through faith in Jesus Christ.
In winter’s dark months soil hides latent life from sight, which gives way to snowdrop, crocus & daffodil bloom. Compare bloom to bare bulb, root & seed, & you wonder “How in earth can such beauty burst from such a dark grave!?”(1 Corinthians 15) But it does! Such is the incomparable greatness of eternal life in Christ.
May God’s Love clear our fog. Jesus, come switch the lights on in our hearts!