Dear Friends

Ecclesiasticus 43:  11, 12
 
11 Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it;  it is exceedingly beautiful in its brightness.
12 It encircles the sky with its glorious arc;  the hands of the most high have stretched it out.
 
We were driving to the park on the the Grange with our 3 year old grandson whilst the funeral of Prince Philip was broadcast.  As we turned towards Bickerdykes Garden Centre this reading was beginning.  It’s from the Apocrypha, a collection of books often included in bibles but which the Anglican Church does not consider as Holy Scripture, but rather as writings that may help us to discover more about our relationship with God.  Nevertheless, I am ashamed to say I’ve never noticed this passage before.
Indeed there’s much about the Duke of Edinburgh I was completely unaware of until the last fortnight, not least his prescient view about the environment expressed several decades before most of us had even realised there was a problem.  But what a wonderful passage to have at the funeral of someone who clearly cared deeply about the created world, and knew it was created by the God in whom he implicitly trusted.
And the fact that the world is created rather that just happened is on of the strengths that comes over in these two short verses (the funeral reading goes on unitl verse 26.  You’ll have to look up the rest!)  ‘Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it’.  Works of art are beautiful but the artistry comes from the maker.  ‘God has given us a beautiful world.  Don’t take it for granted’  That’s the first point the reading appears to be making.
The second is more subtle.  God is still creating!  He is still implicitly involved in his creation and enjoying its wonder, its sensitivity and its effects.  He created the rainbow which ephemerally comes and goes, which is impossible to touch, or even to pinpoint where it starts and finishes.  He created the last one and he’ll create the next one, profligately creating with abundance and joy.  Remember that when you next enjoy a carpet of bluebells or a freshly grown sweet carrot or the grip of a baby’s hand.  Remember that, and trust in a God who will not abandon his creation despite what a mess we are making of it.  Remember that, and allow it to change the way you and I take the world for granted and use it for our own ends.,
This is one of the prayers said at Prince Philip’s funeral:
O Lord God,
when thou givest to thy servants to endeavour any great matter,
grant us also to know that it is not the beginning
but the continuing of the same unto the end,
until it be thoroughly finished,
which yieldeth the true glory;
through him who for the finishing of thy work laid down his life,
our redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Immediately after the reading from Ecclesiasticus the 4 voice choir sang the Jubilate in C composed by Benjamin Britten at the request of the Duke.
Here it is sung by a full choir.
Every blessing
Andrew