Memorial Tribute to The Very Reverend Lynda Patterson, Dean of Christchurch
St Mary’s -in- Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland
Wednesday 23 July 2014
Almighty God, may your Word be our source and our strength, this and every day, we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Amen.
This evening as we gather, we do so to say very honestly that this week has been one of deep shock and immense sadness as we each heard the news of Lynda’s death on Sunday – decades and decades too soon. As I begin I want to acknowledge everyone gathered here tonight, St John’s College staff and students, the community of St Thomas’ Tamaki, clergy from around the Province, friends and colleagues of Lynda. As we gather we treasure together all the ways we have known Lynda, treasured her, and will miss her profoundly. We are also aware that as this day ends in the southern hemisphere it dawns in the northern, and so we stand in a community of global grief. Tonight we hold in our hearts those who loved her most dearly, Lynda’s parents, Cedric and Evelyn, her wider family and friends. They are at the centre of our aroha and prayers tonight. They know that we are gathering here tonight and we pray that, in their grief, they sense our support.
I also bring you greetings from all the Cathedrals of our Province, who each in their own way is offering thanksgiving for Lynda’s life. As fellow Deans we give thanks for the collegiality, friendship and inspiration Lynda offered us.
I had wondered in our preparations for tonight where, in fact, to stand to speak. Usually in St Mary’s tributes such as this are given from the Eagle. The pulpit here in St Mary’s is also a very, very high spot to say the least! It was a very quick thought process however to the conclusion. Where else would one stand to honour and to give thanks for the life of a woman who, I am sure, we are all agreed is one of the most gifted, wise, erudite and humorous preachers and teachers our journeys have been blessed by?
From her sermons that began with a review of good, or otherwise, chat-up lines, or a very open reflection on her upbringing informed by Church of Ireland publications, to very candid and intuitive reflection on the reality of the Church in our day and ‘the man in the shiny suit’, and few will forget her sermon to the Cathedral community after the February earthquake – and those since as they have journeyed together.
So then tonight, it seems very appropriate to be standing here, in this pulpit, to honour our dear friend and colleague, Lynda Jayne Patterson, whose legacy will continue to be a taonga that inspires us, not only in the Diocese of Christchurch, in this Province, but also in the worldwide Church – Anglican and beyond. From Ireland to Oxford to every corner of Aotearoa New Zealand, and so many places in between, the tributes flowing tell that same story. She was an academic rock star!
Lynda was also a pastor of divine gift and tonight we hold especially the community of ChristChurch Cathedral in our prayers. To our friends in that community, Lynda’s colleagues and congregation members, to all those who mourn the death of one who has cared for them most deeply in her journey with them, we offer our love and care in their grief. We also hold Bishop Victoria and the Diocese of Christchurch in our prayers as we recognise their great loss.
Beyond pastor too, Lynda was a wonderful friend. As we pray tonight we hold our own memories of Lynda giving thanks for the gift of her generosity of encouragement, her humour, her care and companionship, her extraordinary humility, her wonderful, often mischievous, smile and those dulcet tones which we have in our ears tonight.
Preacher, teacher, pastor, friends, extraordinary human being – in all this Lynda’s deep faith was beyond very evident in everything that she did. From that place of faith, with its rough edges and questioning corners and challenges, Lynda led others to plumb the depths of God also, just by being her. Lynda lived, in word and deed, resurrection life. How often then would she have preached on the texts we have heard tonight for others who were grieving? The prophet Isaiah, St Peter and Jesus himself from St John, these Scriptures rich and overflowing with the hope of life and of a God who is faithful for eternity.
Today we proclaim this truth for you our dear friend. Lynda - you have been born anew to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. On this night we, too, cling to the truth that we believe, that we proclaim, the truth of resurrection life. May that life be our strength and our hope. From the pulpit to the altar we will journey then, the place where Lynda also stood and, with her voice in our ears, for her and for ourselves we will proclaim that Christ is risen and that God is with us for eternity, and we will be nourished to journey on.
For a craftswoman of words par excellence, tonight the words are simple and yet profound for us. Decades too soon our dear friend and colleague, Lynda Jayne Patterson, has died. We are deeply sad and we are blessed to have had her in our journeys. Of that we are sure. Tonight also we gather and we go with hope, for resurrection is our truth. As it defined Lynda Jane Patterson may it always define us.
Lynda would never want us to get through a sermon without a smile however, so this perhaps is when we should remember that our gathering tonight will conclude tonight with guinness, and with our stories shared and her smile in our hearts, we will toast a most wonderful saint! AMEN