Traditionally on the Sundays of Advent - the start of a new year for the Church - Christians were urged to meditate upon the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Three of them we prefer not to think about too much these days - and the fourth we'd rather put off as long as possible too.
During the last week the people of St. Cuthbert's have been grieved by the death of one of our retired priests, the Revd. Harry Lee. Could he be described as retiring? For me he's been a real source of encouragement during all the time I've been in this parish - the home he made with his wife Averil a source of hospitality and relaxation, a brother priest who could be acute in his criticism, wise in his observations, wide in his breadth of reading and learning, and always funny. His quick-wittedness was perhaps just too quick for many. At parties and other social occasions - given a suitable stooge or sparring partner - he could steal the show and reduce people to helpless laughter. In all things he was a deeply prayerful person, though reticent as to his spiritual depths. During the last days in which he needed hospital care, his Daily Office book was by his bedside. Looking at it back in his home I felt privileged to hold a book so well-used and well-prayed over a lifetime.
Harry came into his own talking about theatre - a "Friend" of the Theatre Royal and the Consett Empire. Shakespeare, pantomime and ballet were all part of the man. His funeral is to be on Tuesday at 9.30a.m. in St. Cuthbert's. May he rest in peace!
Meanwhile, I've not had time for recent blogging or internet updates. So just to say you can find my sermon for the Feast of Christ the King here. And to find out more of what's been going on recently - and looking forward over the next two months - our new Parish Magazine for December 2009 & January 2010 is here.