We had a memorial service this afternoon, only about 20 people at it, nearly all family or very near friends of an elderly man whose father had been Rector here in this parish before WW2. There were two sons and a daughter in that family; only the daughter is left. Their father was apparently the very model of the Muscular Christian ...brilliant, athletic, active, devout, vital...and shattered utterly by his experience in the trenches of the first World War. It is sobering to think that when he died in 1941 he was considerably younger than I am now.
We buried the younger son a few months ago. In a way I think his relationship with the church was always entangled with memories of his father in a way that wasn't totally helpful... his attitude was proprietary, certainly, but at the same time ironic and jokey. Or maybe he just didn't like ordained women.
The elder son I never met, but I've met HIS sons, and we got on very well. This man spent his working life in research on behalf of Major Mining Corporation, inventing all sorts of things that improved productivity and miners' safety. His relationship to the church seems to have been much more positive and straightforwardly devout.
SO interesting to contemplate.
We had a nice service with Holy Communion, 3 classic hymns AND the Nunc Dimittis--with the discreet and tuneful help of the Director of Music/Organist, I managed to sing it, to the chant by Joseph Barnby, which is just about the most basic, generic sample of Anglican Chant (which rocks) that heart could desire.
The readings were the Eucharistic readings for today -- Isaiah "on eagles' wings" and the Comfy Words out of Matthew 11. Lovely and consoling and Advent-itious all at once.
And the family have been generous. We ask for a donation to the parish for funerals/memorials, out of which we pay the musician[s] a decent honorarium. There is no "stole fee" for the clergy, funerals not being an elective procedure in the way weddings are...clergy do collect a fee from the specified donation for a wedding. So usually families then make a "gift" to the clergy.
And I admit it does come in very handy at times.