by Deacon Hugh Parry
Rightly, we have been remembering our front-line workers throughout the pandemic. Firstly, and rightly, we have remembered those in the health service who have often put their own lives and those of their families at risk to care for us all. Add to that the members of the other emergency services, retail workers in essential goods, teachers and so on. The list seems endless which is good because if nothing else, it reminds us how much we rely on each other all the time. This is important because there is a disturbing tendency to believe we lead independent lives when, we are always heavily dependent on so many others.
When thinking of those ministries we rely on and turn to in times of stress, how many of you have considered Undertakers or Funeral Directors as one such ministry? In the two parishes I serve in my diaconal ministry, we are praying each week for all those providing this essential service. One local funeral director I know well personally, caught Covid19 and has only just returned to work. Another small family firm has 22 funerals in the process of being arranged and they said to us that they feel overlooked.
This is incredibly sad when it is considered that they offer a 24/7 service and I know of some who are working 18-hour days six or seven days a week. At funerals, I make a point of asking how they are and how they are coping. The fact that I bother to ask, and their returned gratitude is testament to the fact that they do feel overlooked and unappreciated. I wonder if our personal reluctance to ask them is because we realise that at some point, we will all need their services.
Let us remember that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus brought linen and a mixture of myrrh and aloes, in which to wrap the body of Jesus. Just quietly, they efficiently did what had to be done while others were grieving.
Let us pray for those who serve us in our grief:
Lord you entered fully into our suffering through the cross of Christ Jesus, proclaiming that there is nowhere, not even death, that can escape your eternal love for us. Into the pain and reality of death, you raise up people to care for our mortal bodies. They prepare us for our goodbyes and accompany the dead to their burial. We pray for all who delicately and compassionately labour at the time of death. Bless and keep your servants safe, give them strength for as they bear witness to your holy presence among us.
Deacon Hugh Parry is a Permanent Deacon in Bournemouth, Dorset. He has been a Guild member since its foundation in 2014.