Here is a the homily for Alwyn that was preached today in St Marys Temple Balsall.
Alwyn was a star.At a Children’s workshop while singing all things bright and beautiful when we got to the line ‘the purple headed mountain’ Alwyn changed the words to ‘the purple haired monster’ and nodded his head toward Kathy! The children loved him. His artificial leg while the cause of some frustration became an endless source of laughter. Alwyn helped us not to take ourselves too seriously.
We all loved Alwyn. With his Equity Card and frequent references to his appearances in the ITV soap Cross Roads he was quite a celebrity. Alwyn made a difference to those he loved, to the places where he worked. In this spiritual community he found his place and was loved by all – he had the ability to engage with anybody and everybody. He contributed to a sense of care and belonging. Not least through his rather off beat humour. What a star!
Some African peoples say that when a person dies, a star falls from the sky to go and tell everywhere that something significant has happened. It announces that an individual who was once upright has fallen down. It is a beautiful image. It says that at death something tremendous happens, something which is irreversible, and which causes reverberations in heaven as well as on earth.
It also says that each person matters in the overall scheme of things. This is what all of us want to know. We want our lives to mean something. We want to be valued for ourselves. We do not want to die and disappear without a trace, like a stone that sinks to the bottom of a pond without causing as much as a bubble to rise to the surface.
Again, it shows that at death a person’s uniqueness is clearly revealed. This is why we treasure last words and last memories so much. We know that this individual will never again take shape in the world. That exact note of expression, that distinctive intonation of speech, will never again be heard.
His faith was deep and straightforward – part of who he was. He cared about drawing others into this life. He spoke to those sitting alone; he smile and welcomed folks; he supported Kathy in her vocation and ministry. For all this and so much more we give God our thanks and praise.
Alwyn mattered very much in life, and his death also means a great deal. A star has fallen from the firmament, a star that will never shine on any of us again, and even though there are no signs in the heaven to prove it, we know that his death makes a difference to God as well.
God visits us here today in this Funeral Service, as we prepare to take our Alwyn’s body to the cemetery. The Lord of life and death has compassion on us who grieve for him.
And so we affirm and hope in the words written above Bede’s tomb in Durham Cathedral:
Christ is the morning star who, when the night of this world is past, brings to his saints the promise of the light of life and opens everlasting day.