A Funeral Homily For Ann Bye
Preached at All Saints, Collingwood, Saturday, September 9, 2011
Today’s service is a first for me. I’ve helped with many funerals over the years but never until today have I been at the funeral of writer of hymns. The words of two of the hymns in this service were written by Ann, and they are full of a lively love for God and trust in God, two ingredients that make for a good hymn.
As the new priest here, I only had the pleasure of meeting Ann a few times at Pine Villa (where she was well cared for), so I don’t know the story of her life very well. In our first hymn Ann gives thank to God the “lessons learned along the way” and I would have liked to asked her about those lessons and what she learned from her long life.
I suspect however that I have my answer in the four pages of notes that she left for her funeral. Ann saw Christ as the light the guided her footsteps, she loved Jesus and she wanted to share her faith with others. In her first hymn she speaks of her her praise is offered in “humility” and I love her for that. Ann wanted this service to be about Jesus, and not about herself.
The Bible doesn’t say much about heaven. Jesus says he goes to prepare a place for us, so we can be sure that heaven is a good place. Sometimes when we imagine heaven, we think of it as a place where we have all eternity to do the things we loved to do on earth, which for some people I’ve met usually involves things like golf.
In fact, the only thing the Bible is clear on about what we do in heaven is that when we will get there we will want to spend eternity being with and praising Jesus. The Book of Revelation talks about the worship and singing of heaven:
“I heard the voice of many angels … [and] every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth ad in the sea, and all the is in them, singing “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever” (Rev 5.11-12).
So really, Ann got it right and I’m sure she is delighted to now be one of those voices. Today Ann teaches us that all out worship, all our lives, and all our music should be dedicated to God, and for that as a priest and as a believer, I’m very thankful. I look forward to one day hearing her voice in the heavenly choir.