by The Rev Dr Roger Sturrock
I am writing this blog on the eve of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. The service, the number of guests and other aspects of the occasion will be scaled down as a result of the current Covid pandemic but paradoxically this is how Prince Philip would have wanted his funeral to be, a minimum of fuss and low key. I am sure that we all would wish to give thanks for his long service to the country and support for the Queen over the astonishing period of 70 years of marriage!
This past year has sadly been characterised by many funerals related to Covid 19 and invariably services have had to be scaled down with a small number of mourners and no opportunity to gather after the service for family members to support one another and share memories of their loved ones.
Funerals in New Testament times were noisy affairs with professional mourners being hired by wealthy families who wailed loudly and beat their breasts often accompanied by hired musicians. Women lead the funeral procession as Hebrew men believed that they had introduced death in to the world. Jesus was no stranger to funerals and is recorded in the Gospels as having a deep empathy for those who were bereaved e.g. the Widow of Nain as found in Luke 7 and the Synagogue leader’s daughter in Mark 5 and Luke 8.
Tomorrow will be a sad occasion for many in the UK and around the world but we can take comfort from the fact that Prince Philip had a real and enquiring faith in contrast to how he was often perceived. For the Christian, death is not the end but a new beginning as this Easter season reminds us. The apostle Paul makes the great affirmation in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! “