Saturday, 3 December 2016

He always bloomed

The poster's a bit battered, and the colours are fading, but it had pride of place at Graham's funeral, because it was the story of his life.

Graham was my vicar in Streatham before I went to theological college, and many years later he joined the staff team in Redhill where I was the vicar.

The 'Bloom where you are planted' poster has followed him around in the various parishes where he served (where it hung in his study), and, latterly, in his care home room. And as the poster suggests, wherever the Lord planted him, there Graham bloomed, with Jill always at his side ('we've done everything as a team' he once told the church AGM in Streatham), loving, encouraging, helping people to come to know Christ, or to love him more.

On the day someone said it was a happy funeral, and it was, as people from all over the country who
had been touched by Graham's life and ministry, gave thanks for a life well lived to the glory of God.

There's a wonderful verse in the Bible that talks about not grieving as those who have no hope, and it was the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, that infused the service and gave it the wonderful note of joy, in the midst of mourning the loss of a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and pastor.

One of my former curates wrote to me after Graham's death to say: 'I once said that my aim would be to end up like Graham.'

There was something so special about 'our Graham' that many of us, including me, feel like that, too. So thank you, Lord, for your wonderful servant Graham.

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