I've just spoken with Bill and Anne (Annie's Mum and Dad) who have been up to North Wales to identify Annie's body. They're now on their way back and hope to be with us in church on Sunday, which will be wonderful. Please continue to pray for them and the family, and please greet them warmly if you do see them on Sunday. Let's also continue to pray for Rory Allen, and all of the other people affected by this tragedy.
We've now got the dates for Annie's funeral, which I wanted to get out as early as possible as I know many of you will want to be there. For family and invited friends there will be a committal service at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Monday 2nd August at 1.30pm. This will be followed by a service of thanksgiving for Annie's life at The Kerith Centre starting at 2.15pm. We'll give out more details nearer the time, but we would love as many people as possible to come to the thanksgiving and celebrate the life of this wonderful young lady. I'm told that black will be out and Cath Kidston will be the order of the day!
I've been so encouraged and moved by all the messages and comments on Facebook, email and blogs. In particular I was very moved by blog entries written by two of Annie's friends in our community, Ellie Jackson and Laura Webber-Gant. Just make sure you've got some tissues before you read them, or if you're a bloke at least make sure you're in a room on your own!
Last night close to 200 of us met to pray. It was an amazing time as our sense of grief collided with faith that God can bring many good things out of Annie's death. Jesus said "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). We're believing for many seeds to come from the death of this precious, precious seed, just as the death of Jesus produced incredible seed in the lives of billions of people with changed eternities. Let's keep believing for that in these coming days.
Personally I'm still coming to terms with Annie not being with us any more. Last night I was washing up before the prayer meeting and it just hit me again as I cried into the washing up bowl. Praise God that in times like this we can grieve in community with the comfort of God and one another.