Today I buried our senior Elder at St Peters, Donald Archie Macleod. It was a poignant and meaningful occasion. It really is the passing of a generation. This is the tribute I paid to him at the funeral.
Donald was born in Balivanich on the island of Benbecula on 2nd May 1937 to Kenneth and Jessie MacLeod. His father was a schoolmaster in Benbecula, Grimsay & North Uist, before moving to Farr (outside Inverness) in 1954. When Donald was approaching his second birthday, Ian was born, an event which didn’t impress Donald too much on seeing his baby brother for the first time. A few years later, his sister Helen came along but this time her birth didn’t seem to present too much aggravation on his part.
At the age of 12, Donald went to secondary school in Inverness – quite a traumatic experience for him and the family especially his mother. Living in Drummond Park Hostel in Inverness was a huge change – no home comforts for a start. On leaving school he was employeed by Thomas Tulloch Painter & Decorators in Inverness and after completing correspondence courses resulting in City and Guilds qualifications, he rose to the rank of signwriter with the firm. He started up his own signwriting business in 1964 before moving to Dundee in 1970 to join the Art Department of DC Thomson where he worked until his retiral in 2002.
In September 1965 he married Morag and they began their married life at 4 Ness Terrace in Inverness. In 1974 they were blessed with the birth of a daughter, Aileen. In 2002 son-in-law Matt jointed the family. Further blessing came in 2006 when their grandson Luke was born. Luke is also very good at art and himself and Donald spent many happy times drawing together.
Let me say something about his role in the church here. Donald was an elder when I came here in 1992. He was gracious, compassionate, faithful and hardworking, gentle and ever present. It is going to be hard to be in this church and not have him here. I heard of him as the man who drew desperate Dan – not true – though he did work on the Beano. One picture sums him up – on the day of my induction I found him on his knees cleaning the toilets. He was always reliable when it came to serving the homeless. He saw many changes in the Church, not all that he agreed with, but he stuck to his task and continued to serve. A great testimony comes from Owain who is here – who said about the many visits that Donald has paid to him in his illness “he was like a father to me”. Although he was ill himself he faithfully visited Owain. Well done good and faithful servant.
That’s why this next passage is so apposite..1 Corinthians 15:51-57 –50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
1) Donald was a sinner until the day he died. He knew that. I never heard him pray without acknowledging that. And it was not just religious ritual. But he believed that Jesus would forgive him his sin. Without Christ his death would be hopeless. With Christ it is painful for those who are left but not for him. The sting has been taken away.
2) Because he knew of his forgiveness in Christ, he always gave himself fully to the work of the Lord – well done good and faithful servant.
3) The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable. His body has perished. But there is real hope. Donald will be raised. We are not as those who mourn without hope. Its not the end only the beginning. The Resurrection of Jesus guarantees our resurrection. Death is dead. Death has been swallowed up in victory.
We pray for his widow Morag, his daughter Aileen and her husband Matt, grandson Luke and brother Iain and sister Helen and their families. It was lovely to have the children at what was a solemn, serious, sad and yet joyful occasion. New life in the midst of the most solemn reminder of our own mortality.
As we buried Donald at Birkhill cemetery I read the following from the Book of Common Prayer.
UNTO Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the earth and the sea shall give up their dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his own glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.