Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Weeping and Rejoicing

Four hundred and fifty people packed Saint Mary’s Church, Islington on Monday 11 April 2016 to say farewell to Jennifer Harvey. Jennifer was the wife of our previous vicar, who had endeared herself to the parish in Oadby as much as she had done to people in all the other walks of her life. This explained the huge turnout for a funeral on a Monday. She had died following an (as yet unexplained) illness of a few weeks.

Nearly 50 people, including a coach party, travelled to Islington from St Paul’s. The service was led by the Bishop of Stepney, the Right Revd Adrian Newman, who also gave the address. In this he spoke of the way the message of Christ’s resurrection gives meaning to the Christian, even in the face of the apparently senseless.

Despite the sadness, the service was an uplifting act of praise to the God that Jennifer worshipped. The hymns included “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood?” which Jennifer had long ago said that she wanted at her funeral. Later, they discovered that Charles Wesley had written this hymn while he was vicar of St Mary’s Islington, where they now served.

The tributes spoke of Jennifer’s love for people, of her friendship, of her concern for the underprivileged, of her faith and of her concern for social justice – not to mention her love of a party! When Simon gave his tribute, every individual there was moved.

There was a time to get to know people from Jennifer’s different backgrounds, over cake and Prosecco afterwards.

Jennifer, it was a privilege to know you – and life on earth will be more boring without you. Our prayers go out for Simon and their children.