Thank you so much to all of you who have passed on your kind message concerning Jim. I will make sure that your thoughts are relayed to the family. I am so blessed to have walked alongside him and Anne in the closing years of their lives. We became close friends and I am so grateful to God for them. Many of you knew them both for so much longer. What a joy you brought to their lives and what a joy they brought to yours. At this time of sadness and joy, I am reminded of Jim’s own words in his little book, Dying to Live:
‘When someone dies it is very natural and healthy to be sad; but what we ought always to remember is that at such a time our sorrow is for ourselves, and not for those who have died. It is they who are really alive if they truly died in Christ. So far from being sorry we ought to be glad that they have left the land of the dying and entered the land of the living. In the early Church the Christian martyrs called the day of their death their ‘Birth-day’. John Ruskin once said: ‘I will not wear black for the guests of God.’ One of the incomprehensible things in life is that even as Christians we wear the colour of deepest gloom in honour of those who have entered into the greatest glory. The appearances of death and the culture in which we live persuade us at a very deep level, often quite irrationally, that what we believe as Christians is not true. We cannot banish sorrow – nor should we – when those we love die, but for ourselves if the one who had died has responded to the reality of Jesus Christ, Who said, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies and lives and believes in Me will never die.’
We do not sorry as others, who have no hope. We rejoice in the concrete promise of resurrection and the anticipated joy of reunion.
Jim was not perfect. We must be careful not to turn him into a porcelain saint. He was not that. He was flawed and broken like the rest of us and he would not want us to indulge in making him into something that he was not. Our gatherings as a Church family on Sunday 10th July will remember him but not worship him. We will worship the God Whom we each love and adore and Who loves us all. We will miss Jim profoundly, but this modern day Mr Valiant-for-Truth has passed through the event of death which was not even an interruption to his life. In the words that Bunyan gave to that great character:
'Then said he, "I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my Rewarder." When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the riverside, unto which as he went he said: Death, where is thy sting?’ And as he went down deeper he said: ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.'
Jim and I shared these words recently and he prayed for me, passing on the baton not only to me but to each of us. May we carry it aloft with hope and courage in our hearts.
This is not the end.
Grace and Peace,
Malcolm Duncan F.R.S.A.
Twitter / Facebook / Skype: MalcolmJDuncan
Personal Assistant: Maria Bond.
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