Memorial Service Sunday 28th January

Hymn is – The Day Thou Gravest Lord is Ended

  1. The day you gave us, Lord, is ended,
    the darkness falls at your behest;
    to you our morning hymns ascended,
    your praise shall sanctify our rest.
  2. We thank you that your church, unsleeping
    while earth rolls onward into light,
    through all the world her watch is keeping,
    and rests not now by day or night.
  3. As o’er each continent and island
    the dawn leads on another day,
    the voice of prayer is never silent,
    nor dies the strain of praise away.
  4. The sun, that bids us rest, is waking
    our brethren beneath the western sky,
    and hour by hour fresh lips are making
    your wondrous doings heard on high.
  5. So be it, Lord; your throne shall never,
    like earth’s proud empires, pass away;
    but stand and rule and grow forever,
    ’til all your creatures own your sway.

(by John Ellerton, 1870)

Let us pray

We meet this day to remember our loved ones, to renew our trust and confidence in Christ, and to pray that together we may be one in Him, through whom we offer our praises to the Father.

I have set the Lord always before me:

All: He is at my right hand, and I shall not fall.

Show us your mercy, O Lord:

All: And grant us your salvation.

For with you is the well of life:

All: And in your light shall we see light. 

Let us pray. 

We begin by confessing our sins to God, for sin brought death into the world.

O Lord Jesus Christ, risen master and triumphant Lord, we bow before you in sorrow for our sins, and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.

We have lived by our own strength, not by the power of your resurrection. In your mercy, forgive us:

All:  Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived by the light of our own eyes, as faithless and not believing. In your mercy, forgive us: 

All:  Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived for this world alone, and doubted our home in heaven. In your mercy, forgive us:

All:  Lord, hear us and help us, Lift our minds above earthly things, Set them on things in heaven; Show us your glory and your power, That we may serve you gladly all our days.


God’s forgiveness is spoken.

Hymn is – The King of Love My Shepherd is

  1. The King of love my shepherd is,
    whose goodness faileth never;
    I nothing lack if I am his,
    and he is mine for ever.
  1. Where streams of living water flow,
    my ransomed soul he leadeth,
    and where the verdant pastures grow,
    with food celestial feedeth.
  1. Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
    but yet in love He sought me,
    and on his shoulder gently laid,
    and home, rejoicing, brought me.
  1. In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
    with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
    thy rod and staff my comfort still,
    thy cross before to guide me.
  1. Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
    thy unction grace bestoweth;
    and O what transport of delight
    from thy pure chalice floweth!
  1. And so through all the length of days
    thy goodness faileth never:
    Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
    within thy house for ever.
    (by W. Baker – 1821 to 1877)

We remember our loved ones with thanksgiving.

After all the names have been read out you are invited to come forward and light a candle in their memory.

Let us pray 

Lord Jesus, our risen Saviour,

We rejoice in your mighty victory over sin and death;

You are the Prince of Life;

You are alive for evermore.

Help us to know your presence in our worship,

And to receive your power in our lives,

Until we rise to live with you for ever.

All: Amen.

Our reading is taken from – 1 Thessalonians Chap:  4. Vers: 13 to 18

13 Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope. 

14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will take back with Jesus those who have died believing in him. 

15 What we are teaching you now is the Lord’s teaching: we who are alive on the day the Lord comes will not go ahead of those who have died. 

16 There will be the shout of command, the archangel’s voice, the sound of God’s trumpet, and the Lord himself will come down from heaven. Those who have died believing in Christ will rise to life first; 

17 then we who are living at that time will be gathered up along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 

18 So then, encourage one another with these words. 

Hymn is – Guide me, O my great Jehovah

  1. Guide me, O my great Jehovah,
    pilgrim through this barren land;
    I am weak, but you are mighty;
    hold me with your powerful hand.
    Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
    feed me now and evermore,
    feed me now and evermore.
  1. Open now the crystal fountain,
    where the healing waters flow.
    Let the fire and cloudy pillar
    lead me all my journey through.
    Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
    ever be my strength and shield,
    ever be my strength and shield.
  1. When I tread the verge of Jordan,
    bid my anxious fears subside.
    Death of death, and hell’s Destruction,
    land me safe on Canaan’s side.
    Songs of praises, songs of praises
    I will ever sing to you,
    I will ever sing to you.
     (by William Williams – 1717 to 1791) 

Reflection for Our Memorial Service

Most of the funerals I take are for people whom I have never had the privilege of knowing. I know that can create a hurdle between a grieving family and me, the minister.

Tonight, I am conscious of a further hurdle. Some of you had your loved one’s funeral conducted by other people.

The theme I want to take from it is ‘Grieving with Hope’. Let me introduce it this way.

At the risk of over-simplifying things; I notice two main trends when I visit a bereaved family to arrange a funeral. One is the distraught family, overcome with grief. The other is the family that says something like this: “Dad wouldn’t want us to be sad. We want the funeral to be a celebration of his life.’ One family majors on sorrow, the other on joy. One is focussed on grief, the other on hope.

St Paul says,

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleeping death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.”

He doesn’t say,

“do not grieve” he says, ‘do not grieve like [those] who have no hope’.

In other words, we can grieve with hope.

Grief and hope.

Sorrow and joy.

Grief, but not hopeless.

Sorrow, but not despairing.

St Paul is real about the grief and sorrow that death brings. It isn’t for nothing that elsewhere he calls death ‘the last enemy’.

Death is an enemy. We recognise that in our language. When someone dies after a protracted illness, we often say they ‘lost their battle’ with the disease. You battle an enemy.

Death is an enemy. It takes away from us people we love dearly. They can never be replaced. We can never be the same. Our lives might take on a new shape over a period of time, but we all miss them.

In the face of an enemy’s action, our grief is not selfish. It is normal. We grieve, because we love. But the one we love is no longer here for us to love. Our hearts ache with the pain, and we grieve.

You may know a popular reading at funerals is a piece called ‘Death is nothing at all’ by Henry Scott Holland.

I have read it at funerals, but my problem is that death isn’t nothing,  it’s a real and present enemy.

Taken the way they are at funerals, you would think Holland was trivializing the grief experience.

But they are lifted out of context from a sermon he preached when King Edward Vll died. The sermon was called ‘King of Terrors’, and he knew well the terror that death brings.

So let us be real about grief. Let us own it. We don’t get anywhere without being honest about reality. And the reality of death leads us to grief.

However, hear again what says St Paul said, “we grieve with hope”

Let’s go back to that language of death being about ‘losing a battle’.

Often we may also say – although not necessarily in connection with death – that someone has “lost the battle, but won the war’.

Essentially, that’s what Christians promise about death, and why we grieve with hope. We may ‘lose the battle’ in death, but in the long run because of Jesus we ‘win the war’.

How can we say that?

It’s in this terror that we find Martha the sister of Lazarus: “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 

Jesus said to her.

 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die”.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again. That’s the key. Jesus didn’t merely die. He rose from the dead. That may seem a fantastic and ridiculous claim in an age when atheist scientists claim to reduce religious belief to a delusion, but l believe there is decent historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. We don’t have time to go into it now, and besides you didn’t accept the invitation to a lecture this morning.

However, since I believe Jesus is risen, I believe he shows the way to hope. I believe his resurrection is the winning of the war that trumps the losing of the battle in death.

It’s by trusting our lives into Jesus’ hands and committing to follow him that we share this hope. He wants to share it with everyone. But it’s a gift that needs to be received.

Let me tell you a story. When I was young, Dad worked in banking, and his post was being relocated to Bradford and there was the potential he would be moving there to work.

Well, I would be upset not to see him, I said. Much as I loved Mum and my brother, I would not want to be parted from him.

Yes, he said, of course you would feel like that. But while we remained behind in Burnley, he would not only be working but preparing a new home and new life for us. Then, one day when that was ready, we would move to Bradford and be reunited.

For the follower of Jesus, death is like that temporary parting. While it lasts, it is full of anguish. But one day it will end, and there will be a joyful reunion. This is the grieving with hope that is Jesus’ gift to all who put their faith in him.

Let me finish with a piece that echoes that idea. It’s called ‘What is Dying?’ by Charles Henry Brent:

What is dying?

I am standing on the seashore.

A ship sails and spreads her white sails to

the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.

She is an object of beauty

and I stand and watch her till at last

she fades on the horizon,

and someone at my side says, “She is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight, that is all;

she is just as large in the masts,

hull and spars as she was when I saw her,

and just as able to bear her load

of living freight to its destination.

The diminished size and total loss of sight

is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment when someone at my side says,

“She is gone”,

there are others who are watching her coming,

and other voices take up the glad shout,

“There she comes”.

and that is dying.


Let us pray

Lord, help us to receive and understand your

Gospel, so that we may find light in this darkness,

Faith in our doubts,

And comfort for one another in your saving


We pray for those who mourn: Comfort us all in our sorrow.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Fill the emptiness in our hearts with the presence of your love.

All: Lord, hear our prayer. 

Increase our faith and strengthen our hope: Give us trust in You for tomorrow.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Strengthen us in our pilgrimage through life; Keep us faithful in your service.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Fill our hearts with the hope of heaven.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

O God our Father, we know that you share in our suffering. In our sorrow we come to you today for the comfort you alone can give.

Make us sure that in perfect wisdom, perfect love, and perfect power you are always working for the best.

Make us sure that a Father’s hand will never cause His child a needless tear, and that our grief is precious to you.

Make us so sure of your love that we will be able to accept even those things we cannot


Help us still to face life with grace and fortitude, and to find courage to go on, realising that the greatest way we can honour our loved ones is not only through tears, but also through tribute of our gratitude.

Comfort us and hold us, strengthen and support

us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All: Amen. 

We say together the prayer Jesus himself taught us:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, In earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive them that 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.


Hymn is – Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    let me hide myself in thee;
    let the water and the blood,
    from thy wounded side which flowed,
    be of sin the double cure;
    save from wrath and make me pure.
  2. Not the labours of my hands
    can fulfil thy law’s demands;
    could my zeal no respite know,
    could my tears forever flow,
    all for sin could not atone;
    thou must save, and thou alone.
  3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
    simply to the cross I cling;
    naked, come to thee for dress;
    helpless, look to thee for grace;
    foul, I to the fountain fly;
    wash me, Savour, or I die.
  1. While I draw this fleeting breath,
    when mine eyes shall close in death,
    when I soar to worlds unknown,
    see thee on thy judgment throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    let me hide myself in thee. (by Augustus Toplady1740 to 1778)

Let us pray

Watch now, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ, rest your weary ones, bless your dying ones, soothe your suffering ones, pity your afflicted ones, shield your joyous ones, and all for your love’s sake.

All: Amen.

Support us, O Lord, all the day-long of this troublesome life, until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done.

Then, Lord, in thy mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Christ our Lord. 

All: Amen.

The Lord bless you and keep you,

The Lord make His face to shine upon you

And be gracious unto you,

The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you

And give you peace.

And the blessing of God Almighty,

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Be upon you and remain with you always.

All: Amen. 

Hymn isThine be the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son

  1. Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
    endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won;
    angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
    kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.

  1. Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
    Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
    let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
    for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won

  1. No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
    life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
    make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
    bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.
(by Edmond Budry – 1854 to 1932)

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

All: In the name of Christ 


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