Our thoughts today are with Kevin and Sue. And, as we did a year ago at Barbara’s thanksgiving, we again call to mind their other daughter, Carolyn, who died aged just 20. We would say again that she is not forgotten.
Geoff met Barbara in 56 in Singapore. They lost touch for a while, but then met again in Hong Kong in 57 when he proposed. They returned to the UK, and were married in 1958. Kevin has taken us through Geoff’s life, and I’m not going to repeat that. So much of it revolved around Radio! Geoff, as well as being a bit of a gadget freak, was also a very keen Classic FM listener – I recall him telling me about a letter he wrote, telling them that he had noticed that they were talking more and playing less music – so he had timed a week’s output, and here was the proof. He even managed to combine both traits; just very recently another member of the church here was listening to Classic FM and was surprised to hear that the winning bid on a (large and very complicated) Yamaha digital organ in a charity auction had come from a Mr Geoff Arnold in West Moors. Quite how it would fit in his room, which was more than a little full, I don’t know!
When Geoff moved out of the Merchant Navy and then into publishing, they moved to Dorset in 1977. Geoff has been at the heart of the life of the Church here for many years, and has always committed himself completely to the work, serving as a deacon, and contributing in so many ways. He wasn’t one of those people who just has an opinion, and broods on it – if he had an idea, or a comment, or a suggestion, then he would make it, graciously and thoughtfully. But (as you gather from his correspondence with Classic FM) he would have done his research first!
G3GSR – Geoff to most of you – was a professional communicator, in one way or another. In his work with Practical Wireless, Practical TV, and many more publications as well as in his Merchant Navy Radio Operator days he knew how important it was to repeat a message. ‘Say again’. And through all the changes and challenges of life together, there’s no message that bears repeating more than this one: I love you, and I care about you.
Geoff loved to tell the story of his life. Not because he was vain or full of ego; but because he was genuinely delighted to look back and see how God had been involved, guiding and protecting him. Even through the really tough times – when work had not gone in the direction he had been expecting; when colleagues let him down, or in the bleak days of bereavement when first Carolyn and then, just a year ago Barbara died, he found his strength in hearing of the unfailing love of God. You may recall the line from Carolyn’s poem which was read at Barbara’s thanksgiving: ‘Peace, His deep peace, lifts the troubled spirit from its earthly habitation to His Holy Presence.’
Jeremiah 29 says that too – you may think I have forgotten you, but I still care about you, and I will restore you. I have a place for you. I grew up with the NIV – many of you will call to mind John 14 in the AV, as it promises us a ‘mansion’. But the NIV just tells us that ‘in my Father’s house there are many rooms.’ I’m pretty sure of two things. One is that they are going to be quite splendid rooms. And Geoff will have filled his room up with Radio stuff and other bits and pieces.
Life since Barbara died has been tough for Geoff. He missed her so much. But he was beginning to get things together – and in more recent days after he moved home, and started to eat better (he never did really get the hang of preparing food for himself!) he was looking brighter. But he will be glad to be back with those whom he loves. So that he can say again what he said so many times before.
QSM (as the Radio Operator might have said) – do you want me to repeat the last message? God loves and cares for you. He will see you through the challenges of life, even the toughest of them, and he will prepare a place for you.
Lamentations 3:21: ‘Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”