Ascension Westdene partners Omega Kathmandu.

omega-church-sign

Omega Anglican church is situated in east Kathmandu just outside the ring road, and at the end of the runway of Tribhuvan International Airport. The local area Koteshwor is at the junction of the city’s three ancient provinces of Kathmandu, Patan and Baktapur, set back slightly from a busy intersection which is the gateway to the East via the Araniko Highway to North India.

Founded in Feb 2016 with 12 members, Omega Church now has more than 45 people meeting weekly as a community in the Lord Jesus Christ seeking to serve the local area. They have over 20 children coming and they would love to offer them a chance to attend a good English speaking primary school. This would cost £10 per child per month.

In Nepal the holy rest day is Saturday, so the church meets on Saturday morning. Bikash Shrestha pastors the Church with his wife Kalpana. They have three children Hannah, Sophia and Bibek. Amos Shrestha and Kabita Ghatane serve as volunteers in the staff team. The life of the Church is focussed around prayer, sharing the love of Jesus in word and action, and meeting together in God’s word, and in worship: and God is adding to their numbers week by week.

Ascension Church Westdene is delighted to partner with Omega Church. We are able to help with £50 a month towards rental of their first floor room in the middle of a busy high street. We pray with them that Jesus will bring transformation and hope to many.

 

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Home: Oman, to Nepal, to UAE, to Westdene.

It did occur to me on my travels on each of my stops: what if I just remained here? In Oman with its dramatic coastline and beautiful beaches, its wadis and mountains and deserts to explore, the Opera house, outdoor evening dining, expat community and Church – on the one hand – and its indoor & car culture, limited contact with Omanis, and restricted Christian freedom on the other.

Or in Nepal with bustling developing hard-to-live-in cities and inaccessible villages, the poverty and the need, the incomprehensible yet colourful religion and culture, the beauty and challenge of the Himalayas, cheap cost of living, warm friendly locals, and its exploding church with countless opportunities to support evangelism and transformation.

Or in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) with its constant dry heat and balmy evenings, the majestic and fragrant malls and breathtakingly lit buildings, jogging at 10pm in 30 degrees, cricket grounds, opportunities to ski or golf, bash dunes or ride camels, attend a F1 grand prix, and Ferrari World, and dine in style, though nothing without a price tag.

Or in Westdene? I think I could happily make a life in any of these locations visited. But after all my travels, it was quite nice coming home.

Westdene feels like home. With approaching 10 years here, I guess it claims that right, as the place I’ve stayed longest. But what makes it home is the people that I have returned to – my church family – and the task that I have been called to. But my travels have reminded me that this could be anywhere where God’s people are, and where God’s call is. The choice of ‘home’ is temporary for “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

Festivals

I am actually back at work, but I have a few sabbatical-related posts still brewing. This one is about Festivals, and in particular festival food: fast food isn’t what it used to be!

Sports event catering has always been a big disappointment to me. Standing out from the crowd is Lord’s, the home of cricket, where Jamie has for many a year sold his healthy boxes next to gourmet burger stalls and spicy oriental plates, and at the red-and-gold-tie end of the ground you can find overpriced prawns, smoked salmon, seats, and champagne galore. If one could call 4 days at the MCC headquarters a festival, then this was the fourth of such treats this July.

cricket faces lords 2016[Some faces at Lord’s this summer]

If Lord’s heads the sports tables, then Glyndebourne tops the festival pops. If you’re not glampicnicing then one has the choice of three top restaurants in which to spend the long interval. We had the three course buffet roast, with wine, and very nice it was too.

20160625_183047[The stage for The Cunning Little Vixen.]

But my first festival was the gastronomic eye-opener. Three days at Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Lewes (camping option declined) was a slightly confusing, but very tasty weekend. It’s the music that was confusing: the jazz was in evidence but not supreme enough on the main stages for my liking. However the big bands and Glastonbury-esque  alternative music was at times heart-warming and occasionally exhilarating, and it was interesting to experience Grace Jones and Bert Bacharach. However a lot of it was not jazz. But getting back to the food, I wasted far too much time choosing what to eat in the knowledge that I’d only be able to sample at most five of the stalls. Here is the full range!

My other festival experience this summer was the Silverstone Grand Prix (camping essential). ‘Festival?’ I hear you cry. Festival indeed, for the 100,000 in the tent and motorhome villages next door. The F1 race this year was marred by ill-timed rain, but I was fortunate to get close to Lewis and Jenson, and I’ll certainly return another year.

However, at the campsites the event spans six days, 6am-midnight on three of the days, and all I’d say to those attending with a General Admission ticket and planning to queue for entry at 5am on race day to secure your spot… don’t set up tent near the village on the ‘lively campsite’ as you won’t get much sleep. I did feel sorry for one chap, though, who seemed to be missing all weekend… everyone was most concerned to find ‘Alan’ especially after 11pm and a few rounds when search parties circled the tents shouting his name sporadically. I think it’s a British thing. Hopefully it will pass. I’m all for festivals now.

20160707_212945

 

Faces of Nepal

If there is one thing that is iconic about Nepal, apart from mountain views, it is close up portrait shots of its people. I have had the wonderful privilege of seeing each of these faces close up. I do not know all their stories but my time in Nepal has informed me about their context and shared struggles. 

Psalm 139:14, 23-24
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well… Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

 

 

Love Nepal – Serve Nepal – 15 Causes.

lovenapel

Nepal has many needs that their own government and local enterprise are not able to meet. This has been the case even before the earthquakes of 2015. Because of this the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara are home to many offices of NGOs and INGOs, and foreign aid workers, and there is a constant stream of short term volunteers arriving to bolster the ailing tourism industry in these days of post-earthquake recovery. At the forefront of this work is the Christian church. In a country that looks for spiritual solutions for daily needs – at the shrine or temple, at a festival, or from a witch doctor (‘traditional methods’) – the rapidly growing church is becoming respected as a significant contributor of solutions in ailing communities. As I may have mentioned elsewhere I have observed local churches as a source of healing, the provision of homes and water supply, a pioneer of new agricultural techniques, a champion for equality of opportunity in education, and providing support of widows, widowers, orphans and the disabled, refugees, and creating livelihoods for many who otherwise would be neglected or without hope.

In my travels around Nepal I have encountered many wonderful people (not only Christians) who are seeking to bring change where they live or leverage support for more remote areas. I cannot mention them all here but please see the footnote below.

Here I list just 15 causes! I will be commending them to my local community in Westdene for consideration. In each case the provider is mentioned, but projects 6-13 would be provided through Bethsaida Church in Kathmandu. I trust that we will be able to pick up a few of these as some money has already been pledged. They are in no particular order.

  1. School Education for 20 Kids: Fledgling and fast growing Omega Anglican Church in Kathamndu (founded in February 2016) already has 20 children attending and they would like to support the families by paying for every child to attend a local English speaking school. Cost £10 per child/month. Annual £2,400.
  2. Church Rent & Meals: Omega church is growing and seeks £50 a month to be able to rent the second half of their meeting premises and £20 a week to provide a simple meal for everyone. Annual £600 + £1,040.
  3. Pokhara View Point Primary School Rebuilding: After the earthquake the head teacher of this government school paid from personal funds to fix the broken buildings and continue the excellent education provided under his leadership. Please see my report for more details. Cost £2300. As a result of my trip we have already donated £200 towards this.
  4. House Building Project by The Leprosy Mission (TLM): Following a house-building training programme TLM is now seeking to build 120 houses at £3000 each, for the most vulnerable and at need. Please see my report.
  5. Church and School Complex in Masel: Pastor Assok has identified a good plot of land (cost £5,500) to provide a community centre (church and school costing £110,000) in this Himalayan village near the Gorkha earthquake epicentre. Please see my report.
  6. Schooling Support Program in Remote Areas: Helping orphaned and helpless children by providing education opportunities in central region and Tibet border some villages with little outside contact. In partnership with local churches this could have the benefit of opening up communities to support and opportunities. £120 a child/year (target 64 children).
  7. Health & Hygiene Seminar: Run two three-day training courses in essential health and hygiene awareness for women in remote villages where there are no health facilities with the aim that they then transfer this knowledge to their community. One near the Tibet border for hilly Tamang communities and one near the Indian border for the so called ‘slave people group’ the Tharu community. £13 for each delegate (aim to train 585 delegates).
  8. Gospel Sharing Training & Church Planting: One three-day evangelist training seminar in each of the 5 regions of Nepal for 200 participants on each occasion. Nepal has the fastest growing church in the world. This training helps every believer share their faith and provides trained workers for regional churches bringing the gospel to new communities. £7.50 per delegate (£1,500 per seminar).
  9. Ministry Sustainability with Income-Generation: One time support for pastors or church workers to help them continue the work and be self-sustaining. £190 one off gift for 10 goats or 10 piglets or 410 chicks to each family.
  10.  Livelihood Support for Helpless: Providing living support for helpless leprosy affected people and widows. £13 per person monthly (23 people target support = £3588 annually). Please see my report.
  11.  Desks and Benches Support: Helping local remote schools by providing seating and desks for children by using local wood supplies and carpenters. £3800 for 120 desk/bench sets.
  12. Building Construction Support Project: Helping local churches, schools, health centre clinics, community centres etc to upgrade facilities where there are local volunteers but not the funds for materials. £11,000 for 5 buildings.
  13.  Youth Link Ministry: Serving struggling teens and youth in Kathmandu area with holistic approach (physical, social, spiritual, emotional and socio economic prospects) and help them meet Christ to have hope, peace, salvation and prosperity in life and learn to support others. £5,000 for salaries, costs and activities annually to directly support 60 youth a month and 720 in a year.
  14. Five14Adventures Homestay House-Building Project: Interserve are building metal framed buildings in partnership with holiday makers and villagers to create new tourist accessible areas in the Himalayas and provide essential housing. Recipients of a homestay live there and ‘pay it back’ by hosting trekkers. This brings income to whole communities. It is possible to sponsor a house build and/or take a group on a volunteer expedition. £2300 to build a house or £38 a day for an adventure.
  15.  Goat for a Girl: Interserve are helping to eradicate the female sex trade in the far west by providing a simple living. £80+ to provide goats.

**** Footnote: Some other worthy agencies working in Nepal that I came across.
All Hands leading teams to clear rubble, set up emergency shelter distribute aid and suport childrens development.
International Nepal Fellowship one of the longest working NGOs, specialises in health and development work. As INGOs (International Charities) are not allowed to work directly in Nepal they work through INF and UMN among others.
United Mission to Nepal pursuing justice and peace, the causes and effects of poverty and making Christ known in word and deed.
Human Development & Community Services with a project called ABBS they serve 100 children with disabilities through day care centers at three places one of which I visited in Kathmandu. These centers help the children by teaching them daily living activities and try to develop them physically and mentally through different therapies. The focus of the project is to help children with physical and learning disabilities to develop learning skills that will make them independent and self-sufficient to integrate with the community.
New Life Minisries is a network of churches that run a bible school, training, orphanages, church planting and also known as Feet Ministries. They trained  and continue to support the pastor who serves in Masel at number 5 above.

Things I’ve forgotten how to do whilst away.

 

All kinds of things are different when one spends time ‘outside’ i.e. away from home (see footnote). Here are five things that I have forgotten how to do because they somehow disappeared from my life for four months.

  1. Cooking. Five weeks in hotels and ‘tea houses’ precluded it. Three weeks as a house-guest or as a meal-guest negated the need for it. For the remaining five weeks it was either cheaper, socially convenient, or just more fun to eat out. My only contribution to my own cuisine was when I was too unwell in Kathmandu to eat out, or on two occasions in Oman when I helped prepare sandwiches for a picnic. But a major contributing factor to this seeming culinary neglect is that food shopping is frankly a tricky thing for a nervous westerner in the developing world. Apart from the confusing array of products on the shelves and the awkwardness of negotiating a sensible price at the markets, I quite frankly did not trust the safety of the meat on display: I feared for my lily-livered liver. Besides, the convenience of countless eateries of various quality made completely unnecessary the fight through traffic or the walk through heat and/or rain to the one trustworthy Bhat Bhateni Supermarket. Whilst the availability of clean food and water was never off my mind, personal food preparation could not have been further from it.
  2. Running. Or any planned exercise. Don’t get me wrong it was a pretty active sabbatical and I lost a stone in weight (which has mysteriously returned). I hiked for 2 weeks, I rode a bike for 10 days in two cities and I walked many long hours with or without a backpack visiting interesting places and local communities. But in this whole time I only once sought out exercise as a personal choice – and my reward on this one occasion was both wonderful and unforgettable as the sun rose over the Omani coastline on my final morning beach run, and swim.
  3. Routine. One of the joys of travel and leaving responsibilities behind is that you never know what the next day might bring. However as one looks back one can’t help wondering… would more daily routine or general structure have lead to clearler outcomes (books read, objectives met) or would it have stifled the ability to respond to daily opportunities? Who knows? What is certain is that it is difficult to get back to any kind of routine on my return.
  4. Shaving. It did happen from time to time. It happened once a week when I was shaving and once every three weeks (by Nepali cut-throat barber-cum-masseurs) when I wasn’t. Since my return what I have learned is that unless one goes for a cave-man beard, the twice-weekly process of trimming and tidying seems to take just as long as being clean shaven. However, having now settled on a four week, tidy-ish, scruff the options are clear: beard remain another week, or begone for the foreseeable future.
  5. Cricketing. To be precise, the playing of cricket (or any sport for that matter). Not that I was particularly proficient with either willow or leather prior to my sabbatical. But with the first game of my second full playing season coming up tomorrow I fear the worst. A summer of no sport apart from the armchair variety is hardly adequate preparation for a competitive return to T20 tomorrow evening and longer matches in the weeks to come. And I can’t remember when i last made use of my golf clubs.

Perhaps it is just as well that I kept my hand in at preaching, praying and (to an extent) pastoral visiting whilst away, because with regard to the topics above, it’s time once more to get my act together.

**** Footnote: ‘outside’. I have heard this term used in two ways in Nepal; both meaning ‘away from home’. It is applied to tourists, volunteers and foreign aid workers plus any others who are perceived as being ‘from outside’. ‘Outside’ is also the location of the ablutions in a Himalayan village – to the dispair of local health workers – as it never refers to a small outhouse nearby. Ideally, it is as far away from home as possible, which is exactly the aim of some of Nepal’s visitors in their decision to travel to Asia.

J M Bousfield (1920-2016)

Jeanne Margaret Bousfield  (nee Legge). Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend. Show-jumper, riding instructor, stunt-rider, model, film actor, seller of venetian blinds, estate agent, dress-maker, fashion designer, executive cheuffer, house-maker, house-builder, Bed & Breakfast (and dinner) host, painter, show-garden architect (‘gardener’), sumptuous cake-maker, gourmet chef (our opinion). Loved, and lost on 22 May 2016. Celebrated at Eastbourne Crematorium on 27 June 2016 with a family gathering at Wingrove House, Alfriston. Thank you Jeanne for giving us life and filling our lives with your light.

EDITED FUNERAL TEXT FOLLOWS

In: to Love Theme from Romeo & Juliette (Andre Rieu).

Introduction
Jeanne was an extraordinary person. I’ve not known anyone quite like her and I feel so privileged to have been in her family and to have known her. And honoured that Jeanne requested that I take her funeral. Grateful too that you have been kind enough to wait for my return.

We are a small gathering but this is not so much a reflection on Jeanne’s life, as on her longevity. None of us have known her for her full 96 years. But I’m certain that for as many years as we have known Jeanne (Jean) Margaret Legge or Mrs Bousfield, mum, grandmother, huggy bear, Jeanne, /dʒæn/, we have been enriched by her.

I do have some greetings from friends who couldn’t be here today. From Barbara in Cornwall who has such happy memories of Jeanne and Tony in Alfriston, and who really appreciated her friendship over the years. Barbara misses the regular phone calls with updates on the tennis and the equestrian world.

Maggie, a fellow painter and neighbour in Devoran, Cornwall sends a message. “For you dear Jeanne. When the chips were down you rallied – your cottage full of the aroma of Christmas puddings and cakes we were all wanting to buy and your lovely paintings. To a very talented, inspirational and spiritual lady who I was privileged to know. Love and peace always, Maggie.”

Indeed Maggie. Jeanne was a spiritual woman. Not religious as such, but she has spoken of faith to her grandchildren. There was an awareness of sin and a humility that I believe contributed to her generous acts of love. In moments of honestly, she expressed her fears and her hopes as well as her faith and doubts.

In fact, are we not all spiritual beings? When death comes are we not effected by sadness and loss? When love is experienced are we not similarly transformed? Do we never search for our purpose in life or muse over how we have lived as we approach life’s end? Isn’t how we live significant and will it not be remembered by and does it not effect those whom we leave behind?

And so it is with a mixture of joy and sadness that we arrive here today. Thanksgiving for a long life of passion and energy. And great sadness as that life comes to an end and leaves such a hole in our lives.

At the outset I quoted the words of Jesus that are read at Church of England funerals. Those who hold onto Jesus’ words of promise believe that there is hope in death as in life. And that there is new life in Christ despite death. We look to Christ’s resurrection for our own.

Peace Has Come
For our reflection. Here is a piece of music chosen by great-grandson James. We know how much Jeanne enjoyed Christmas, enjoyed hosting Christmas, and baking for Christmas, and family and friends at Christmas. Hanging on her dressing table mirror was a Christmas angel that grand-daughter Anne had given her. And this song that James performed recently speaks about the peace from God that comes through Jesus. “Peace has come”.

Behold the star of Bethlehem
The Word of God has become flesh
Unto us a child is born
The Saviour of this broken world

Oh, hear the Angel voices
Sing come let us adore Him
Peace has come
for our King is with us

Fully God and fully man
He comes for all with open hands
He rules with love on David’s throne
All praise belongs to Christ alone

Oh, hear the Angel voices
Sing come let us adore Him
Peace has come
for our King is with us

Holy, Holy, Holy
Jesus, we adore Thee
Peace has come
for our King is with us

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Tribute
Jeanne Margaret Legge was born as the second daughter to Alfred Reginald Legge (bank manager) and Alice Margaret Legge (gifted pianist) in Torquay 12 March 1920. Her older sister Claire had a career as a Wing Commander in the Womens RAF and married Jeffery Quill, a test pilot for the spitfire. Though they were not close siblings Jeanne remained in contact with her elder sister later in life.

She was not close to her parents either. Jeanne was neither a boy, nor was she academic (neither of which were technically her fault) but at 15 her father allowed her to pursue her passion for horses and she went to a riding school in Stanmore N London. The proximity to Elstree Film Studios opened many doors for an early career in Horse Whispering (I’m not sure if that is the technical term). Having passed her riding instructor certificate at 17, she obviously excelled at this and found herself in charge of the horses at Elstree, tried her hand at stunt riding, and in the course of her brief film career met such prominent actors as Laurance Olivier, John Gilgeud and Charles Lawton. I’m sure there were some actresses in there too but I doubt they were nearly as interesting to this glamorous teenager. Business minded Jeanne made the most of her “paid per fall” contract as a horse-riding stunt double – Jeanne recounted many a story of essential retakes and slight misunderstandings of direction, and ‘I’m asfully sorry Jeanne, would you mind trying that again?’ The bruises were worth it. Ker-ching. Have I yet said that embellishing good stories was another of her great talents? Have you heard the one in which Jeanne rode horses with Princess Elizabeth? Or that her mother was proposed to by Winston Churchill? If true (sorry – of course it’s true) many of the lives in this room would have taken quite a different course. However I digress.

Jeanne met Tony in Willingdon Eastbourne at age 19 and they were married in Folkestone, he in his military uniform, shortly before heading off to support the D-day landings under Field-Marshall Montgomery. As with so many others at that time raising two boys during and post-war was a struggle that defined this generation of resourceful women. There were also sadnesses during this time but Jeanne, Tony, and two sons Michael and David emerged maybe battered but alive and ready for a new adventure.

This took the form of 15 years in South Africa, as the lure of warmer climes and no rationing, and new hope in a promised land of milk and honey  was much desirable and made possible as Tony could work in the newspapers as a sports writer and advertiser.

I can hardly believe, as I have been told many times, that these were unhappy years for Jeanne when you consider how she spend her time here. It is said of Jeanne there is not a lazy bone in her body and this is reflected in the multitude of careers and activities that she engaged in… modelling, sales of venetian blinds, an estate agent, a fashion designer and dress maker, an executive cheuffer, a house-maker and house builder designing 2 of the family homes one of which was featured in the local Homes and Gardens magazine, mum and host, she was always ready and delighted to cook for Tony’s colleagues even at the shortest of notice. And there were the horses, of course, and the tennis that was a passion they both shared, not without some skill. Every job she did, she excelled at. But they were never rich people by the standards of others, and were perhaps never quite settled and Jeanne longed for home.

As Tony relocated to work for the Daily Mail in London their life at the first Cinders Cottage in Dorking from 1963 was a happy period. Some inheritance enabled Jeanne to purchase a paddock and buy her horse Pegasus, and develop a strong friendship with Marisha and her family in those days.

Cinders Cottage 2 was in Alfriston and Alfriston is where Jeanne started to get to know her grandchildren. We remember the golden retriever Amber from these days and in Petworth where Tony was suddenly and untimely struck down. From the outside theirs looked at times like a turbulent relationship – but Jeanne lived by a principle that kept them solid – “never let the sun go down on your anger.” She was always ready to reach out in forgiveness for the sake of reconciliation. And their marriage lasted its full term, that’s not to say she wasn’t cross with him leaving her.

And so a new chapter of Jeanne’s life emerged in Cornwall where house prices were cheaper, opening a high end B&B on the Roseland Peninsula, taking up painting in oils then in watercolour here and later in Devoran and mixing with artists and selling at local exhibitions. She never had much but she always grafted and made the best of her talents to survive the changing circumstances of her life.

Thankfully she was able to return eventually to Alfriston with Shane, and devote herself to creating a beautiful garden that was opened up to the public in the summer, baking cakes for visitors and for commercial sale, hobnobbing with Alan Titchmarsh over her garden fence, and volunteering locally where there were needs such as cleaning in the parish church. Until the garden became sadly too much, and a series of new adventures took her to Hawthorns, then out into a private flat in Eastbourne then back to Hawthorns. And to be honest Hawthorns wasn’t her favourite place, and these weren’t her best days, and the people there not her favourite people – and so, tremendous thanks must go to Samantha and Justin Bennett for being allies, and making these long days more bearable. God bless you both for being there for her and with her, and at the end by her side in prayer. Thank you. From me and my father and all of us. Thank you also Karen for keeping her hair looking so beautiful.

Jeanne passed peacefully watching TV and in the presence of a friend on Sunday 22 May. We believe she was ready to go. She longed not to be a burden. She said only the good die young. Self-effacing to the end. But of course it was us that were not quite ready to let her go because of the joy she brought to our lives.

Today we say farewell to an extraordinary woman. Remarkable in her range of talents, and the scope of her achievements who never lacked drive or perseverance, in her dark days held her poise and on her good days shone bright enough to light us up also. Thank you Jeanne, and farewell for now.

May I invite you to listen to these words of promise and comfort read by grand-daughter Sue.

John 14:1-6, 27
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Address
‘No religion’ has been the motto for today. I’ve tried. But there was an occasion some 10 years ago that profoundly spoke to Jeanne’s spirit and which gives me confidence today to say something more about the Christian hope. The occasion was the baptism of Agnes at St Nicholas Church Sevenoaks.  The preacher was speaking about the emptiness often of religion which can blind hearts and minds to the goodness of God. And on the positive side that if you have eyes to see you’ll see that there is a God who is to many ‘Unknown’ but yet who made the heavens and earth and is not far from each one of us. He is waiting that we might seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him. Maybe it was these words (from Acts 17) that spoke to Jeanne. I don’t know if she shared this experience with anyone apart from Anne. And I’m aware that she spoke again later of her doubts. But please let me all the same share Jesus words of promise and peace this afternoon.

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me’.

  1. The Promise of Heaven

He tells his friends to trust in him because he is going to heaven to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house.

Could it be true, that behind all that we can see and experience there is a God who has a future in mind for each of us beyond this life. And that Jesus purpose in coming to earth was to make possible our passing at the end of life, to this. And not after all to nothing, or even something worse. I wonder if you believe in life after death? And what it would be like.

Earlier that day Jesus had described heaven as a great party, he told his friends that they would eat and drink with him again at the great banquet in heaven. A picture of something special worth looking forward to.

Are these just words we use at a time like this to take away the bleakness of death or could they be true?

The Christian belief is that God sees our world full of pain and loss and says – well it won’t be like this forever. “I will make all things new”. I will “will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone”

And when Jesus speaks about the future he says the key to this is not religion, or church or institutions, or wishful thinking, but a relationship.

  1. The way to Heaven

He says. “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

If you are seeking… he says ask, seek, knock and the door will be opened to you. He offers light by which we might see and know what is.

And says simply come to me. For I have come that you might know the WAY to heaven. Get to know me and you are on the right path to knowing the TRUTH about spiritual things. And on the path to discovering eternal LIFE.

I don’t know how far Jeanne got along this way. But I believe she didn’t stop seeking, asking and knocking. She was humble enough to acknowledge that there was a bigger picture.

And Jesus offered something unique when died on the cross and rose again. He offered to pay for our sins. To bring us peace. He conquered death to offer us life. And he extended this invitation not to the religious, but to anyone who would trust him. That through him we may come to know the Father. And that we then would be with him beyond this life. United with others. Forever.

There are many rooms in my father’s house. This offer is not just for a chosen few. It is a way back for all who would hear, and see, and reach out for a hope that extends beyond this life.

We bid farewells to Jeanne, and we have these words of Jesus. They offer hope and peace in the face of death – because they say that death is not final. They are also something of a invitation to us – if you really know me says Jesus you will know my Father as well.

Thine be the Glory

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 victory, thou o’er death hast won.

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 victory, thou o’er death hast won.

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 victory, thou o’er death hast won.

The Lord’s Prayer
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.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for Jeanne. Thank you for our wonderful memories of her. May they never dim or distort, and may they never fail to challenge and change us.

Commendation & Committal: Accompanied by Serenata, by Toselli (Andre Rieu)

Closing Blessing: May God give you his comfort, and joy, in this world and the next; may he give you true faith and sure hope of eternal life; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you  and remain with you  always. Amen.

Exit: to Glenn Miller ‘In the Mood’