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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr David's Sermon

11th June 2008

Fr David Shepherd

Cecil de Braux RIP

‘...for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit & faith.’ Acts 11.24

That verse comes from today’s epistle – today is the Feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle. I notice St. Barnabas because I was once curate in the church of St. Barnabas Bromborough on the Wirral.

I thought we would have the reading at Cecil’s funeral because of that verse. It stands as a good epitaph for Cecil – he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit & faith.

Cecil gave practical shape to his faith through his membership of church choirs here and elsewhere in the Essex of his youth. This is a way of saying that we was always here, present in the choir stalls. A few years ago, when Vera needed his care, he actually retired from the choir, hanging up his cassock. It wasn’t for long. Soon, after Vera died, he was back & he was here almost to the end.

When someone has died it is hard to take it in at first – we still expect them to be here, even though we know they have gone. Because he could no longer go at a processional pace Cecil used to make his own entrance & exit. That said it was a close race to the vestry with Cecil arriving only a few yards behind us. I must admit that the last two Sundays I’ve still found myself looking out of the corner of my eye for the familiar trainers poking out of the cassock – hard to believe he is no longer with us!

Another thing that Barnabas is remembered for is as an encourager. Cecil was also an encourager. In the choir I like to think he encouraged others to take the risk of going solo, often by the strength of that gentle presence, just as he took the risk of flying and mountain biking at 90!

Barnabas had a concern for the needy, organising relief for early Christians. Cecil shared that concern too, so how appropriate that the donations in his memory are to go to the work of Christian Aid.

The gospel for St. Barnabas comes from St. John – and speaks of the Christian’s friendship with Jesus and of the fruit that he calls us to bear in our lives. Cecil was a good friend of Jesus and a friend to many. He also bore much fruit in his life, in marriage & family life, at work, in all those octogenarian adventure pursuits and in a long life of faith.

Jesus, in the BCP version of the gospel, tells us that our ‘fruit will remain.’ Our faith tells us that the fruitfulness of our lives doesn’t end in the decay of death; rather our fruit remains, lasts. It lasts to eternal life through the death & resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

So with sadness and with joy we hand Cecil over to God’s safekeeping, as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit & faith, as an encourager, as one with a concern for others, as a fruitful friend of Jesus.


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Comments about this site or problems? Contact Webmaster (Colin Richards) at Last updated 11/06/2008 15:30 Author: David Shepherd