Today I had the privilege of being at the celebration service of my good friend, Major Dean Fairhurst, of the Salvation Army.
A novel idea was giving everyone a voucher instead of an order of service as we walked in.
The voucher was for a free pass to Heaven, with a hug from Dean when you get there.
The fine print on the bottom did mention that Jesus Christ is not optional. To get in you must believe, to believe there is faith required.
The people attending the celebration memorial service were left in no doubt as to where Dean stood as a Christian. His faith was absolute, and even in death the message rang out loud and clear – sort out your stuff, get right with God.
Salvation Army funerals are not generally solemn mournful occasions, and this one was no exception. The songs were bright, the brass band giving great accompaniment to some of Dean’s favourite hymns and songs.
Every tribute gave opportunity for laughter, tears and remembering this man, who above all other things, was real, and personable, and had no time for pretence.
I came away feeling blessed at having known him for over 26 years, but more than that, for feeling somewhat sad that I hadn’t taken more time to really get to know him better.
He has left me with a challenge though – to carry on living a life worthy of the God who I serve, and to share my faith with others so they too, can have eternal life.