The Funeral of Al Timpson

February 7, 2000 in St. John's Church, Portsmouth, Kingston, Ontario.

A Meditation by Robert Brow    (www.brow,

We have been wonderfully reminded of Al Timpson's life among us. My task is to help you picture what he is already becoming. If all you knew about an acorn was its shiny shell, you would miss its destiny as a huge spreading oak tree. Al is already freed to grow to his full stature.. But it is not just size that is important. The true quality of a crinkly daffodil bulb is not known till it warms to the sun in the spring and appears in all it beauty.

Paul sums up the change in these words. "What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that shall be, but bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body" (1Corinthians 15:36-38).

Notice that every kind of seed or bulb has a body of its own. There is a continuity. When warmed by the sun a daffodil bulb becomes a yellow daffodil. A crocus bulb has another shape and colour. There is nothing the bulb, or any other kind of seed, has to do for the sun and rain and soil to do its work. And when it is raised, it finds itself in a garden (paradise is the Persian word for a garden) with many others of many different kinds.

We could conceive of a daffodil feeling the warmth of the sun and responding "leave me alone, let me die, I want to rot away in the ground." And I suppose there are some people (I suspect very few) who don't want to be loved or love anybody, certainly not in heaven for ever. In that sense it is possible to reject God's plan to perfect us in love. But Al's love for Donna, and their family, their friends, and all the children he loved to teach, was only a foretaste of the contribution he is already making to the life of heaven.

Paul also speaks of two kinds of body. "As for what you sow, you do not sow the body that shall be, but bare seed or a bulb. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed a body of its own" (1 Corinthians 15:37-38). We need one kind of body for this life. And God gives us a resurrection body suited for heaven.

After his crucifixion, when Jesus rose from the dead, he had a resurrection body. But he did not hurry back to the joys of heaven. As I read the Gospels and the hints given to us in the Book of Acts and in the Epistles, I believe Jesus appeared to his disciples on eight consecutive Sundays from Easter to Pentecost. (See the article "Eight Sundays from Easter to Pentecost"). He joined them as they were walking on the road to Emmaus, he came through locked doors to join in their conversation, they could recognize him, and he insisted on eating with them.

He had said he would meet them in Galilee, but by the time they arrived it all seemed like a bad dream and they decided to go back to their fishing business. They kept casting their nets all night and had caught nothing, but in the morning Jesus was on the shore cooking breakfast for them. When he told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat they hauled in 153 huge fish. That is why, because of Jesus' resurrection, that we believe in the resurrection of the body. Al is not a ghostly disembodied spirit. He is already much more alive then he ever was on earth.

By the way let me remind you that Jesus' resurrection body could come and go in Jerusalem, meet the twelve disciples up on a mountain, or in familiar circumstances by the sea of Galilee. Some of you have missed out on visiting others countries, but you won't miss out on the freedom to explore the immense beauty and unexpected wonders of heaven. Al is already checking that out.

God gives us all the good things that we enjoy in this life as a foretaste of heaven. Al loved music, and the music there is a thousand times more varied and richer than the best that every nation has produced. He can choose plainsong or Cursillo music. We won't need food to keep our bodies alive, but the pleasures of eating together will be a thousand times more than we can imagine. Our gardens are wonderful, but just imagine the gardens of heaven. And there will be friends to meet from every tribe and nation. In a moment we will share together in a last family communion meal with Al to picture the feasts of heaven.

Al loved children , and he loved teaching the children of Central School here in Kingston. But of course heaven will be full of children. Jesus said we have to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. I am sorry you can't be dull and stuffy there. Al is already like a little child, full of energy, free to dance and play, and laugh and love. He will enjoy teaching all he knew, and learning from each one of the innumerable company of heaven. That is why this service is a joyful celebration. It does not take away the loss and sense of terrible bereavement for those who will miss Al for a long long time, but it assures us that death is only a beginning of very much more.

model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments