Wednesday, 23 January 2013
When the oldest man in Britain was 105 his friends bought him a cricket bat with 105 not out on it. Today I acted as sidesperson at his funeral where it was said that he was now 110 declared. Reg Dean reached the age of 110 and 63 days before his death on the eve of the epiphany. I only met Reg once- on the eve of his 110th birthday and by then he was very frail and yet clearly still had a very active mind and a deep living faith. Since his death there have been a couple of news items about him and an articles in the paper, all of which made clear his deep and abiding faith in Christ. On the Sunday a week after his death the church celebrated the baptism of Christ and at all the services I attended Reg made it into the sermons. He was such a glowing example, not a saint but a very human man who showed how we can each walk with Christ day by day. He said in one interview that I heard that there were 3 questions he had asked in life- who am I, why am I here and where am I going. These questions are what the world asks and what we as Christians seek to answer through our own faith in God and study of the scriptures. Todays funeral was devised by Reg and as such had all the characterisitcs of the man. It included songs from the Dalesman Male voice choir which he had helped to found, readings of scripture and poetry, a tribute from his son and a homily from a friend. It was ecumenical with both URC minister and the Rector leading and was held in the Parish church as the largest building. The refreshments that followed were served in the local Methodist Church and had been prepared by the local cafe. There were TV cameras and reporters as well as the local radio there and yet it was a simple celebration of a well loved man just like the two funerals I will take next week. It has been a privelage to be part of all this , for it has been a joy to learn more about a man who walked with God for 110 years and who I am sure is now at rest and peace in the 'mansion' which Christ had gone to prepare.