Today I heard that my beloved friend and training vicar, Peter Ronayne, has died at his home in Lymington.
He touched so many lives with his warmth, his love for people, those outrageous comments made in his famous stage whisper at numerous meetings, his sheer love of the Lord and zest for the Gospel, his unruly dogs, his sense of humour, the church's he built and encouraged.
It can truly be said of him that he 'fought the good fight', he 'finished the race', and he ' kept the faith.'
As for me, this afternoon I am humming to myself his favourite hymn - which was also his testimony:
Lord, I was blind; I could not see
In Thy marred visage any grace,
But now the beauty of Thy face
In radiant vision dawns on me.
Lord, I was deaf; I could not hear
The thrilling music of Thy voice;
But now I hear Thee and rejoice,
And all Thine uttered words are dear!
Lord, I was dumb; I could not speak
The grace and glory of Thy name;
But now, as touched with living flame,
My lips Thine eager praises wake.
Lord, I was dead; I could not stir
My lifeless soul to come to Thee;
But now, since Thou hast quickened me,
I rise from sin's dark sepulchre
For Thou hast made the blind to see,
The deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
The dead to live; and, lo, I break
The chains of my captivity.