Last weekend was so busy, so full of highs and lows, I need to blog it just to try and make sense of it!
I’m not kidding about the title, there was more going on in it than an episode of a soap opera. I might just be able to blog it in one post, we’ll see.
Saturday started in grand style. It was the funeral of Noel Stanton. I didn’t miss any busses getting there, which is really something for me, but a poor old gentleman on the way got overbalanced trying to ring for the bus to stop and actually getting off it, so between the bus driver and some of the passengers, we took about 10 or 15 minutes to get him back on his feet and walked home.
I then went into Sainsbury’s for some food and bits for later – and left my overnight case there once I’d paid for and bagged up all my stuff, but didn’t notice until I came to pay for something in The Body Shop and mum rang me in the middle. Needless to say I was a bit tired and rather flustered before I even got to the funeral.
The funeral was very much a history-making event. It was held at the Northampton Jesus Centre and was packed out. I managed to get into the main auditorium, but I’m certain there were people who had to sit out in on of the overflow room and watch a video link. I didn’t get a seat, I had to sit/kneel/stand in a walkway area. Gerald Coates (edit: actually it was Roger Forster!), a long-time friend of Noel and a friend of the Jesus Army too, gave a message and a reading from the Bible.
There was a video containing photos and videos of Noel running from early life, his time in the Navy, ordination, early days at Bugbrooke Chapel and going on right up to the last addresses he made to the Jesus Army just before and at Easter. Kelly, Shaun and Danny gave tributes of their own. They spoke of how Noel had believed in them, pushed them on, been there for them, seen God in the most unlikely people and actions.
We sang 9 songs of Noel’s own choosing, and at his request there was very little evidence of black. He wanted a celebration, and I believe we managed to do him proud. There was a lot of laughter throughout. That may sound odd given that we were at a funeral, but it was good and right. I suppose it might be more fitting to say it was a service of thanksgiving for the life of a man who had served God until God called him home. As you might expect, there were tears at the end when the coffin was carried out by the young men who Noel had regarded as his sons.
I chose not to go to the committal. It was enough for me to say goodbye to him at the Jesus Centre.
The “fun” restarted as I left the Jesus Centre. I walked to the train station in baking heat pulling all my luggage, bought my ticket and made it to the platform just in time to catch the train. Great. Except the train was quite a long one and I got on about halfway along. I was a little surprised that the train didn’t pull out immediately, and was stunned to learn when the train was 10 minutes late that only the front section was going where I needed to go and it had already left. I had to go to Birmingham and then change and get to Nottingham via Derby, and I was an hour late getting to Nottingham. Dan and his dad waited patiently for me to arrive and then find a toilet. By the time I arrived in Nottingham I’d drunk 4 litres of various drinks due to the heat, but the toilet on the train was broken, so I was in great discomfort by the time I arrived!
After all that, Ted and Dee (and Dan, before he panics!) were lovely to me, listening to all that had happened and feeding me wine and tasty food. Watching TV was abandoned in favour of going pretty much straight to bed.