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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Thanksgiving service for the life of Joy Harrison:

Over the years a number of people have requested that I take their funeral. Joy Harrison was one of those people and so she died at the end of February this year it was natural that I would be involved. Therefore the journey to South Wales was made and I had the privilege of leading a thanksgiving service in the church in Ogmore-by-Sea evangelical church. Below is the transcript of the service held in memory of Joy.


Ogmore-by-Sea Evangelical Church

15th March 2016


It is with great sadness that we gather here today. Our purpose is to celebrate the life of Evelyn Joy Harrison known affectionately as Joy to most of us here. Joy was a much loved mother, grandmother, relative, friend or neighbour. She sadly passed away in the early hours of Saturday 27th February 2016. Joy's death did not really come as a great shock due to her having been unwell for quite some time but that makes this none the less a sad occasion.

To have known Joy was to respect her, the two came hand in hand. Our purpose in this service is to celebrate Joy's life and to praise the Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has done for her and through her. Therefore we will be singing some of Joy's favourite songs of praise, we will read a portion of the bible which over recent years had become a vital part of her life. We will speak of her life and the Saviour that she loved.

We begin by praying:



The Lord's my Shepherd.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore.

New International Version

I know not why God's wondrous grace.


Word's of comfort in difficult days:

I am grateful to Gary for his comprehensive notes on the life of Joy. Gary has produced what he calls the “Seven ages of Mum” in which he plots Joy's life from the beginning.

The first age: A grand entrance.

It all began on 17th March 1930 when Evelyn Joy Lee was born to Percy and Annie Lee.
Percy was a veteran of the Great War having fought with the Royal Engineers in the trenches of the Western Front where he was shot in the stomach at Armentieres, just south of Ypres by a German sniper in 1916. He was subsequently discharged after a lengthy period of convalescence.

When Joy was a baby the family moved to Highland Place, Coity, Bridgend where she spent all of her childhood, and teenage years along with sister Ina who was born a couple of years later.

The second age: Growing up.

Joy attended Pen-y-Bont school where she had a happy childhood and as you can imagine she made many friends. There was one particular friend Barbara who would be a lifelong friend to Joy. It was Barbara who introduced Joy to her cousin Keith. Love soon blossomed and Joy and Keith were married in the Spring of 1951 at Hope Church, Bridgend. They began married life in Quarrella Road, Bridgend. Joy at the time worked for one of the post-war Government Departments. Soon after this they bought their first house in Garfield Avenue, Litchard where they lived happily until 1962 when they bought a garage and house in Exeter
Keith steadily built up a good business with Joy helping him as accountant. Their first child, Gary, came along in 1964.

The third age: Emigrating.

They lived happily in Exeter until after a short holiday to Canada to see Barbara in 1966 when they decided to emigrate to London Ontario in 1967. Keith soon found work as a motor mechanic and Joy settled down to life in Canada.

Family life with Joy was always a lot of fun with many happenings on the way. In their early days in Canada they took a trip by car across the prairies and through the Rockies. Whilst in the Rockies Keith and Joy had an amazing experience whilst standing outside of the car to admire the view. They came face-to-face with a Grizzly Bear and just made it back to the car with the bear in hot pursuit. You can just imagine the conversation in the car for the next few miles.

On another occasion whilst on the same trip Gary fell into a stream and was almost swept away but was plucked out at the last moment by Joy wading into the water. These are examples of what life was like in the Harrison household. Joy loved to recount the stories of the past all of which helps us to understand something of her character.
Whilst in Canada Keith became very unwell, his sickness was attributed to the extreme heat of the Canadian Summer but it later turned out to be to be thyroid problems. For this reason Keith and Joy decided to return to the UK. They moved to Dawlish for a short time in order for Keith to recuperate. Upon Keith's recovery they bought the garage in Ogmore-by-Sea in 1969. Gary started school and Robbie came along shortly afterwards in 1970.

The fourth age: Building the business.

Initially the garage was a hut selling petrol but Keith slowly turned it into a car sales business. Joy settled down to making home in the aptly named The Nest where she looked after the garage accounts and raised her family.
Gradually the business built-up and in the late 1970’s Keith and Joy built the garage complex at the bottom of Church Close with Kilworth built as their living quarters. The business later became a Mazda franchise in the 1980.

The fifth age: Further developments.

Time passed happily in Kilworth with Joy loyally discharging her role as Mother, house-wife and accountant. Gary moved away in 1983 and the car sales was changed to an antiques business in the late 1980’s.
Later they sold Kilworth and converted part of the showroom into a home for their semi-retirement.

The sixth age: Community service and mixed emotions.

In 1990 Joy joined the Ogmore and St Brides Community Council on which she served for 13 or more years. She was an effective and much loved member of the local council where she served as the Conservative party representative.

Joy's greatest sadness came when Keith passed away in January 1992. The antiques business was closed down and Joy began to learn how to live without her soul partner. After a while she moved into77 Main Road which she made into her home until she finally passed away.

In March 2001 Joy became suddenly unwell with what she always referred to as her mystery illness. The doctors and specialists were completely confused as to what had caused her to so unwell. Within just 12 hours she went into a coma and was on life support machines. It was said of her condition that she had defeated science and logic. But it was during this time when a number of her vital organs had failed and death seemed to be imminent that spiritual life was born in Joy. She had an encounter with the Lord that was real to her and which dramatically changed her outlook on life. She had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who assured her that she would live through the illness and she in turn committed her life to Him. After this encounter Joy soon began to recover and was released from hospital on the 11th of September that year 7 months after first becoming unwell. During this time we at the church were praying much for Joy but not knowing what the Lord was doing in her life.

The whole experience had a profound effect upon Joy who as soon as it was possible came to church where she became a committed member of the fellowship here. I remember Joy stopping me one Sunday evening as I was walking to the evening service and asking if she could come along. That is a question that every pastor loves to be asked. Joy came along and it was obvious that something vital had happened to her. We will return to this in a few moments.

Another significant thing happened during this time. She was approached by her long lost cousin Bob in Australia who was compiling his family tree and wanted to visit to learn more about his family. This was the beginning of a deep friendship; Bob and Joy spent many hours visiting family and catching up on old times. Bob is greatly saddened that he cannot be here today and has sent the following tribute:
In Memory of Evelyn Joy Harrison

On this lady’s life the sun has set
A lady who suffered such pain
Her passing now brings much regret
Whilst fondest of memories remain

Her family and friends both near and far
Now grieve she has gone for ever
This lady…mother…beloved grandma
Will not be forgotten…never

Through God’s good grace …Joy has gone
To his garden for her to tend
Our fondness and love for her live on
For the joy she brought us has no end

Lovingly remembered…Bob

The seventh age: Moving on.

The final stage began for Joy one sunny summer's morning in June last year when as she went to see the plans for the Ogmore-by-Sea community hall she fell and ended up in hospital. This was the start of a long stay in hospital and eventually on to Picton Court for a short time. Her health was steadily deteriorating until finally she passed away peacefully at the age of 85 years just 3 weeks before her 86th birthday.

For Joy this was her final moving on! But for her there was a welcome in heaven. Heaven was her confident hope which was sealed when on that day in 2001 she met with the Lord Jesus. If you think back to the second hymn that we sang. The words of the chorus are: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I committed unto Him against that day!” Those words are taken directly from the writing of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy chapter 1:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

On that day whilst in a coma in her hospital bed Joy committed her life to Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that her sin was forgiven and that she was then a new creation. That means that the old life of self will was no more and a life dedicated to the glory of God had begun. There is nobody who knew Joy that could deny the difference that this made to her. I had the great pleasure of being her pastor and her friend. She delighted myself and the church with her enthusiasm for the bible, for worship and fellowship with the church. She became a committed member of our little church and was one of the most regular and loyal attenders where she was loved and respected by all.

We all know that Joy was never a fading violet she was always ready to question something that had been said or to comment largely when appropriate. I loved it when she would stop me whilst in free flow of a sermon to ask me to clarify a point.

But there is just one more thing that we learn from the passage above, Paul says that faith in Jesus Christ has destroyed death for the believer but yet here we are at the funeral of Joy a follower of Jesus. What is that about, well it is all about moving on. Remember the old song “This world is not my home I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue!” There is a bit of poetic licence there, the treasure for the Christian is laid up beyond this life. The promise of scripture is that for the Christian we move on from this life and in a moment of time we are in heaven and present with the Lord.

On Saturday 27th February 2016 Joy moved on from this life to eternal life where she was met by her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who welcomed her into heaven with these words: “Well done Joy you good and faithful servant.”

This same welcome is available to all who like Joy commit their life to Jesus.

I would like to bring comfort to all here who are mourning today by telling you that our God in heaven knows just what it is like for a loved one to die. It was God the Son who died on the cross and the heart of His Father in heaven was broken. Just as God knows what pain grief brings He will surely comfort any one of us that comes to Him humbly seeking help and comfort. He is only a prayer away.

We thank God for the life of Joy, she was a faithful wife of Keith, loving mum of Gary and Robbie. A doting grandmother 8 times over. She was a family member, friend or neighbour to all of us, we miss her desperately but we thank God for her having been part of our lives.

Earth has been impoverished by Joy's death but heaven is very much enriched!

I heard the voice of Jesus say.

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