May 28th, 11 – Jake 50 Homily


With any musical performance we are taken on a journey. Whether as performer or listener we are involved in this intimate moment where we are carried, transported, where we are enlivened, supported, where we transcend reality and are ultimately transformed.

But the performance comes to an end and we return to the reality. And this is where we are now. Meeting here today we will be sharing many different emotions – anger, frustration, love, peace, sorrow, sadness, shock and numbness. And it is right to be feeling like this – it is only natural when someone we love and know so well has been so cruelly taken from us.

But here we are, sharing this moment together. Of course we all have our own memories of Jake – and it is right that we hold these, we share these and we re-live these. And yes it is right too that we remember Jake the true and humble friend, the talented gifted musician,  Jake who had that great sense of humour, who knew how to have fun – we only have to recall his smile. Every so often we come across people whose lives display grace and beauty in the true sense of the words – and this is a humbling experience. These are gifts and we know that Jake was blessed with many as Jonathan has shared with us so beautifully and so many of you have shared on various postings and web pages.

Jacob shared a life of hope – as he was growing up he always displayed such a positive and hopeful demeanour – he saw the best in everyone and everything – he would encourage and nurture people through both his accompanying and in the helpful loving comments that he made. Never one to criticise Jacob would offer guidance through his own humility.

But this sense of hope was nurtured and fostered from growing up in a home and with a family that was steeped in love and support for one another. Where grace and support were held hand in hand with a sound faith, faith in what is good and right and a sound belief – belief in nurturing and bringing about the best in other people. Jake inherited this gift and he himself shared it freely with others.

And both these gifts faith and hope were surrounded by that great gift of love that effused from Jake. That gift that Esther spoke so movingly about. A love for all that was around, a love and passion for all that he did, that was particularly expressed through music in all its guises that Jake was ever a part of. Never would a performance of Jake’s be bland or thrown off – right from those early days of accompanying hymns for assemblies when at St Peter’s Primary School through to performing on the concert platform to hundreds of people the music that flowed from Jake’s fingers would display all of these gifts with a real depth of spirituality.

It is these gifts of faith, hope and love that Oliver read to us which are written by Paul in the bible – and as Oliver read this I think he did so for all of us, but particularly for Jake’s generation who are loved Jake so much in return. Paul is writing about the many different spiritual gifts that are bestowed upon a person; and so much of what we heard we can relate directly to Jake today – although I am not sure about the line when I became an adult I put an end to childish ways (sure Jake singing along the descant line). But Paul says that without these gifts of faith, hope and particularly love we are nothing. As Jake would have read in the Latin of Virgil amor omnia vincit – love conquers all.

And what an inspiration to us all – throughout his enduring suffering and illness Jake never lost that sense of faith and hope and love for all around him. In the darkest of moments Jake will stand as an inspiration to us all for that – and for this we must give thanks.

These gifts of which we speak are God-given; and yet many of you here will be asking but where is God in all of this? And I will tell you. God is with us right at the heart of it all. In the pain and the suffering God stands with us, he stands alongside us; he carries us and he holds. As Jonathan spoke about the Gormley sculpture I was reminded of another Gormley – The Angel of the North and share that hope of that towering angel with huge arms opened wide to receive us all now in our sorrow and grieving. And Jake too shared this faith and hope – for it was here in this Cathedral that he would come regularly to be comforted by the uplifting music and the words of the liturgy; it was to God that he gave thanks for all his wonderful friends who cared for him and who supported him – as some of you may be aware, following a performance at St Edmund’s earlier this year, Jake wrote in his diary of the joy in seeing so many people he loved and said How can I thank God enough for such a wonderful way to spend a day after such a seemingly rubbish one yesterday? Who knows what tomorrow will hold. It was shortly after this that Jake had a spell of a couple of weeks where he was able to enjoy himself to the full – to meet with his friends – and as Cherry says to live for that moment like any other 21 year old would. And yes it was to God that Jake gave thanks that night and it is to God that we give thanks today for Jake’s life, his gifts his talents.

In the bible, just before Jesus died, he spoke to his disciples; and in speaking to them, he speaks to us today, saying that he was going ahead to prepare a place for us with his Father – because in my Father’s house are many rooms – literally mansions. A place to be with God forever. For this is the hope of a new life with God – a new life prepared for Jake and for each of us.

And three days after Jesus died he rose again to this new life in eternity. It was on this first Easter Day that Mary went to the empty tomb – and in her sorrow and shock of not finding her saviour – it was Jesus who came up to her and comforted here with simple words. It was also on that first Easter Day that two people were walking along a road distressed and distraught at what had happened; they did not know who it was, but Jesus came and walked with them and listened to them; listened to how they felt – they expressed their emotions their shock and anger at what had happened. And then Jesus revealed himself to them – and comforted them and restored them.

And yes it this same Jesus who has been and is still walking along with us in our darkness – this risen Jesus who has conquered death who holds us and in time will restore us – as we shall sing later Thine be the glory risen conquering son, endless is the victory thou o’er death has won. Through the risen Lord Jesus we must take comfort and solace in our own sadness, and support each other in our grief. It is this Jesus who has prepared a place for each of us – where there will be peace and no more tears – the place where Jake is now. And Jesus said we too know the way to this place if we follow Jesus who is the way the truth and the life – if we follow his example.

Just as we must leave here today and follow the example and inspiration that Jake has gifted to all of us. And in doing so we must learn to acknowledge and to celebrate the gifts in ourselves and the gifts in others. We must let ourselves be transformed for the better through our knowing and loving Jake. We must allow the power of music to transcend all and lift our spirits and, as Jake believed, make us whole and complete in whatever form this may take.

I was talking with Jonathan the other day about moments in our life which are special – where something different happens that we keep and treasure. These kairos moments as they are called, I believe are God given moments – special encounters – of the moment. Many of us will recall our encounters with Jake that are like that. And people have often spoken about Jake’s performances being of the moment;  Jake’s last performance was one such moment – the adagio of Beethoven’s Bb piano sonata; a performance which has been described as exquisitely sad, and yet triumphant in its way – as Cherry said, Jake saw this as a gift.

The year that this sonata was published, Beethoven himself was plunged into darkness through losing his hearing – at this time he wrote a prayer which I want to share with you now; words I could hear Jake saying; sentiments that have been spoken about that can relate to us and to Jake:

O God give me strength to be victorious over myself,

For nothing may chain me to this life.

O guide my spirit,

O raise me from these dark depths,

That my soul, transported through your wisdom,

may fearlessly struggle upward in fiery flight.

For you alone understand and inspire me.

With any musical performance we are taken on a journey. Whether as performer or listener we are involved in this intimate moment where we are carried, transported, where we are enlivened, supported, where we transcend reality and are ultimately transformed. Today, knowing that Jake is at peace with God in that place specially prepared, we ask that God remains firm with Jake’s family; and we ask that God continues to stand along side us, to embrace us and to hold us; to share with us those gifts of faith, hope and love; and to give thanks for Jacob’s life, for his gifts and that through knowing Jake and sharing that love of music, we too may continue to be transported and transformed with love.


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