Page From The Past

Without doubt, these servants of the Lord are not to be merely mourned, but to be celebrated – their candles, I do think, continue to cast light through the legacy of their lives and service.

O death, where is thy sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55

Iam truly amazed. I recently had the privilege of stepping back in time. And my guide was the late Bishop Emeritus Theodore R. Doraisamy, or TRD as he was affectionately known (Methodist Message March 2014 page 18), who through his memorial and funeral addresses, introduced me to 43 servants of the Lord in the book he published entitled Candles of the Lord.

Among them – the Rev L. A. Samuel, protégé and adopted son of Bishop William Oldham, founder of the Methodist Church in our region; Mrs Mary Dana, prayer stalwart; the Rev M. T. Fang (Fang Ming Teh), inspired by John Sung to give up the secular world for full-time Christian ministry; Mr Andrew Lee, initiator of the Aldersgate movement in the church; the Rev Daniel T. Niles, an advocate of mission and unity; Mr Waldo S. Reinoehl, “Mr Evangelism”; Dr Tan Joo Liang, devout servant of the Lord and husband to the late Professor Nalla Tan; Mr William S. Pakianathan, teacher at Anglo-Chinese School, football coach and advocate for the disadvantaged in Little India; Mrs Harriet Dudley, loving mother, church fund-raiser and president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service; the Rev Dr Paul B. Means, Rhodes Scholar, manager of the Methodist Book Room and editor of the Malaysia Message; Mr Francis Tambyah, “plucked in the flower of youth” at just 21 and so forth.

So many stories encapsulated in each of these memorial addresses – yet each an inspiration to us, through the different facets of their lives, in seeking, serving and glorifying the Lord through their gifts and talents.

If only TRD was still here for me to have a chat with him. In his preface to Candles of the Lord published by the Methodist Book Room in 1987, TRD’s main incentive in putting together this compilation was titled “Why Remember”.

According to TRD, a minister had noted that a funeral service is an occasion for celebrating “the particular gifts of particular persons”. This minister regretted that at a funeral service he attended, there had not been a single reference to the deceased’s love of music, though four pastors at her service had richly benefitted from her services as an organist.

This set TRD thinking about the parable of the talents. He said in his introduction: “There was no one so deprived that he did not possess one particular gift. Jesus chose many disciples and however humble some of them were, they all had differing gifts and graces making a mosaic of service in the Kingdom.”

TRD added: “Christian funerals are necessarily witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and the hope given us through scripture, song, message and witness. We are warned not to mourn as people without hope. The resurrection hope should not be reserved for discussion only during Easter and funerals, but should be part and parcel of Christian education and of attitude-building.

“The hope we have loses its credibility in the way some people mourn, and whoever is in charge of the funeral can handle this sensitively, sympathetically and even firmly. The door must be kept open by mourners to the entry of the Comforter or Counsellor promised in St John 14:16.”

Without doubt, these servants of the Lord are not to be merely mourned, but to be celebrated – their candles, I do think, continue to cast light through the legacy of their lives and service.

Copies of Candles of the Lord are available at the Archives & History Library of The Methodist Church in Singapore, for reading and reference. The Library, which has materials dating back to the early years, when Methodism was introduced to Singapore, is located at unit #04-01 of the Methodist Centre at Barker Road.

Picture ©CreationSwap/Ard Huizinga

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Christina Stanley is the Editor of Methodist Message and has been a member of Wesley Methodist Church since 1987.