I was at a funeral earlier today, of John Carrie, a Church of Scotland minister. I had learned a lot from John back in the early nineties when I was green and clueless; mainly about how to make things happen and work really well while giving an outward impression of complete chaos (a trait that was remembered with a laugh at the service). He always had about fifty new ideas a day and would have boundless enthusiasm for all of them. One speaker at the service began by saying that John was “not your standard minister,” and while I don’t know what a “standard minister” is, I know what he meant. The church in Queensferry, where John had served for the last 37 years – his only parish – was packed, but the local Roman Catholic Church (and this is in itself testimony to John) had opened its doors and a computer-generated audio link was relayed there to another packed congregation. That was where I ended up.
I’d last spoken to John almost a month past. He was soon to retire and was talking about that with his usual optimism. It’s really sad that his death came before he could enjoy retirement. Also sad that he died just before Easter. When we sang Thine Be the Glory at the end of the service, I knew there was every possibility that it would have closed John's own Easter Sunday service, had he lived to do it:
Thine be the glory, risen, conquering son.
Endless is the victory thou o’er death has won
He was a big Leonard Cohen fan. And this track, If It Be Your Will, is one of Leonard’s best ever – a song of untouchable beauty both musically and lyrically. I hope John would approve my choice.