This week I was part of two services of thanksgiving for two people who had died. I did not know either of them though I felt I knew them after. The first was held in the Dick Sheppard Chapel. Some of the homeless clients at the Connection wanted to remember a Polish friend who had died on the streets whom they called Pablo. Eight of them came. They had written some words on a paper napkin which said that Pablo was kind and generous and a friend to them all. The napkin soon got dropped as one after the other they spoke about him, in English, Polish and Spanish and then hugged each other. There were tears as they lit candles. “It makes you realise the community and support they have for each other,” Danniella” whispered. We were all visibly moved.

The other Service of Thanksgiving, at St Mary’s Twickenham, was for the life of Linda Evans – the mother of Rachel Morrison who sings in our choir. It’s Rachel who is one of my first memories of coming to St Martin’s – it always struck me that if someone could both smile and sing at the same time with such love and joy – this must be a good church to worship in. This thanksgiving service showed how much music was also the gift of her mother and whole family. We were given a wonderful taste of what kind of person her mother had been – her energies, her friendships, her love for family, her losses, griefs and struggles. The music that wove that life together was here assembled into a diverse choir of over 45 directed by Matthew Morrison with members of our St Martin’s Choir, past and present, coming to support. It ended with You are the Sunshine of my Life arranged by Rachel – a song her mother and father sang to her as a child. I could imagine it. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy – wider than life itself – and in both these communities I glimpse the true meaning of church. It was despite the cold of winter and the sorrow – like sunshine.

Revd Richard Carter