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Andrew Collis Funeral Homily for Trevor Davies

This is the text of the Homily given by South Sydney Parish Minister Andrew Collis at the funeral for Trevor Davies on 23 June 2011.

Homily Funeral Service for Trevor Edward Davies Pitt Street Uniting Church June 23, 2011

Mark 12:28-31

‘To will one thing’

I am honoured to have known Trevor Davies, and honoured to share this homily today.

When I first arrived in Redfern-Waterloo five years ago, Trevor told me how he’d once climbed onto the roof of the concrete shed behind the church. “I was up there,” he said,“with a clear view in all directions,” before impressing upon me the importance of serving the people of South Sydney. This was a moment, for Trevor, of clarity, of call. His God had shown him, as in a prophetic vision, the rooftops and high-rises, the back-lanes and parklands of thousands at risk of hopelessness and voiceless-ness – and charged him with a task: to inform, to agitate for reforms, to protect the most vulnerable, to relieve suffering, to help create safe social space – to herald a reign of love and justice.

“It’s awesome,” he said, of the responsibility he felt for The South Sydney Herald and its work. And then he’d say how he hated the word “awesome” – or hated the way it was abused by overly enthusiastic co-religionists. I used to wonder what’d led to Trevor being up on that roof. There is something comical about the scene, just as he’d find it slightly comical to see me preaching from up here in the high pulpit,but I never had cause to doubt the sincerity of his vision. It was plain that he lived in response to it. Among many condolences and tributes this past week some people have told me they sometimes envied Trevor’s sense of vocation.

Like many, I’m shattered by Trevor’s passing. It seems incredible he’s gone. And yet I’m also in awe of something – the lesson of his short but full life. It’s this. That when you discern a calling in life there’s no telling what you can achieve – there’s no telling what can be achieved through you, even in spite of you. One of my favourite books is called Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing by Søren Kierkegaard. “Purity of heart is to will one thing”means that love of God and love of neighbour are in harmony, are one thing. The commandments connote a double movement of the heart but not a contradiction.

And more. With the discernment of a true calling, you are free to be yourself. And you can do amazing things – you can push out from within all kinds of limitations. And you can have a lot of fun doing it!

I want to honour how far Trevor had come – how much he’d overcome. I sometimes didn’t acknowledge that so well. How he challenged himself and tested cherished propositions and even prejudices, allowed himself to trust and to love – his neighbour as himself. It was rarely without great effort.

I not only recognise this double, triple movement in the life of my friend, I also feel the force of it as a personal challenge. Trevor’s life and death renew a soul-searching: What am I called to be and to do? What do I love when I love my God? How does my life make for freedom, hope, genuine safety and happiness in others?

It’s a properly Christian challenge, and it wouldn’t be untrue to say there’s a gift-like quality – a graciousness – in the death of one who lived so faithfully. Trevor’s death, in good time, will open a space for others, many spaces for others. This is not so shocking with reference to one whose Saviour died for others.

I’m only just beginning to appreciate what I’ve learned from Trevor. He taught by doing, by trying, by not giving up. I have a terrible sense of direction. Really terrible. But I realised a few days ago that I pretty much know my way around South Sydney. “Turn left,” Trevor would say as we made our way in the GoGet van from the printer’s in Marrickville, through the streets of Newtown, to Darlington, Glebe, Kings Cross, Surry Hills, Redfern, Waterloo, Eveleigh, Alexandria, Erskineville. “Turn left, always!” He never grew tired of that joke.

Who’d have thought a little congregation and an army of volunteers could produce a community newspaper each month for well over ten years. Vladimir, Dorothy, Ali, Esther, Jonathan, John and I, still marvel at what appears the impossible. But it is possible. By the grace of God, it really is.

Here’s the good news. Because there is a light the darkness will not overwhelm you. Because there is a light you may walk in it. Because Trevor Davies, in the Light of One whose commandments are encouragements to give and receive love, has shown you how to make connections in the community, how to maintain friendships, how to care for your neighbourhood, you will not be alone. You are not alone.

In the name of God – Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver – Amen.

Source: http://southsydneyuniting.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=322:june-23-2011-homily&catid=38:homilies&Itemid=77