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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK


Dando funeral address in full

The full text of the funeral address for Jill Dando by the Reverend Marc Owen at Clarence Park Baptist Church, Weston-super-Mare

Perhaps the greatest question humanity faces today is the question of "Why?"

Farewell to Jill Dando
Often in our lives we wonder, "why do we exist?", "why are we here", "what is the purpose to this life?"

And today we, along with many hundreds, if not thousands, of people not only in this community, not only in this nation, question "Why - why did Jill have to die?"

It would be quite wrong for anybody to stand here today and pretend to have an answer to that question - in all honesty, we do not know.

Remembering Jill

And yet as we meet here today we do so to remember Jill.

To remember, as we have been reminded, a beautiful, young, energetic and talented woman, loved and appreciated by her family, her fiance, her friends and colleagues and by a viewing public who took her into their homes and into their hearts.

Today we remember Jill for all that she was, and is, to us and nothing and no one can ever take that away from us.

The question of "why" has plagued human history since the beginning of human history.

In the Bible, the question as to "Why?" is often asked.

The circumstances and situations confronting the people of God were at times arduous, painful, even tragic.

One of the great things about the Bible is that it records not only the good news but the bad news and it traces through the annals of human history a God who continually meets with His people, comforting them in times of distress and hardship, drawing near to them in times of pain and anguish.

The New Testament teaches us that upon receiving Jesus Christ into our lives as our personal Saviour and Lord, a transaction planned in heaven and worked out upon a cross at Calvary is brought to bear upon our lives.

A transaction whereby through faith in Jesus Christ, God's Son, we are put right with God, our future destiny is assured and our present life empowered.

Life is hard

But we're never promised an easy life. The life that we must all live in this world is, as we all know from experience, hard.

The trials, temptations, difficulties that we face day by day chip away at our character, our personality - to help mould and shape the kind of individuals we are and are becoming.

The question is how we confront or embrace those challenges.

There's no doubt, as Roger has shared, that the experiences and challenges Jill went through, particularly in her younger years, helped to mould what we knew as such a wonderful and vibrant personality.

But Jill faced those experiences as a Christian, difficult experiences, head on.

They were times when the God whom she trusted was with her, promising to uphold and strengthen her.

Jill with her Lord

For those who are left today we must draw comfort in knowing that Jill is present with her Lord.

We must draw hope in that we know that the God whom she knew personally has promised to be our comfort and our strength.

In our Old Testament reading from the Book of Psalms, we read of God being "a refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

The words of Romans 8 remind us of the sense of victory the believer has when facing death.

Why? remains

Yes, the "why?" remains.

Many will reflect in the days, weeks, months, even years that are to come on Jill's death.

Many will question, many will wonder. The police will continue their investigations.

But, particularly for you as a family, for you Alan, my prayer is that today you will all know the God Jill knew as your "refuge and strength" and that you will be persuaded "that neither death nor life or anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

We give thanks today for Jill Dando and for all that she has meant and still means to us and for the Lord she loves and serves still.

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