Address by Rev Geoff Boland at the funeral of Dick Winter a member of St Barnabas 6th October 2017

One of the most difficult and most troubling symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia is that it inflicts terrible damage on people’s ability to remember things. To the extent that husband or wives who have been married for decades face the prospect of trying to communicate with a loved one who doesn’t even remember their name.

We all may laugh when people of a certain age say I run up to the top of the stairs but when I get there I can’t remember what I came upstairs for.

But, remembering is an important thing and it’s very much a biblical thing too.

Throughout the Old Testament in particular, God’s people are called to remember what God has done for them, to remember how He intervened in miraculous ways on their behalf. To remember how He won battles for them.

To remember as King David did that ‘all things come from God’ and when we give things to Him in worship, we are only giving back what He gave us in the first place.

The call to remember therefore is vital because it’s all too easy to forget.

We are told today with cold hard figures and statistics that Alzheimer’s and Dementia are on the increase. One of the reasons for that they say is because we are living longer. And science is investing heavily in doing what it can to halt this disease in its tracks.

But what is true in the physical is also very true in the spiritual.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that in regard to the Christian faith, our culture is suffering with spiritual Alzheimer’s.

What I mean is that we are forgetting basic fundamental truths about who we are as people made in the image of God. And the call from God is to ‘Remember’ to remember.

So when our culture says Evolution has all the answers and that ultimately your worth is zero, it’s survival of the fittest. There is no purpose in your life, and no purpose in your death.

We need to remember that we are people made in the image of our Creator that our finger prints are unique, our DNA is unique, and that God has good plans and purposes for us if we acknowledge Him.

When our culture says the only thing you can believe in is what you can see, taste, touch and smell, that we should only invest our energies in the material things; live life to the max. We need to remember that all material things are temporal and we can lose them all in a breath.

When our culture says all religions are the same, they are all saying the same thing. We need to ‘remember’ that Jesus said ‘I Am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me’.

And I could go on…

What is so encouraging and so hopeful for me as Dick’s pastor for many years is to be able to say that although Dick’s physical memory had been attacked, his spiritual memory was renewed. It was renewed a number of years ago when Dick ‘remembered’.

When Dick was baptised at Sandbanks and said publicly ‘I repent of my sins, I submit to Jesus Christ as Lord’ he was remembering what most people today forget or completely ignore; that to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, means handing one’s life over to Jesus and saying ‘let’s do the rest of my life ‘together’.

Dick wasn’t a bible basher, he wasn’t an intellectual theologian. He was just a man who ‘remembered’ what this world is forgetting, that God made us in a unique way and He has unique plans for us, if only we would acknowledge Him and live life with Him. And the rewards for doing that are also clearly mapped out in the Bible.

Jesus, as well as saying I am the way, the truth and the life; said this: ‘I am the resurrection and life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and everyone who ‘lives’ and believes in me shall never die’.

That is the Hope that is offered to each and every one of us TODAY.

A hope that Pam and Dick grasped with both hands.

A hope, that sadly is a distant memory for many, but a hope that if remembered and responded to, like Dick, is a promise that is ‘unforgettable’.

 

Rev Geoff Boland