THANKSGIVING SERVICE FOR THE LIFE OF HUGH DRUMMOND
31 DECEMBER 2012
Micah 6:8 “No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this:to do what is just, to show constant love, and to walk humbly with our God."
We are gathered here today to give thanks to God for the life of Hugh Drummond for all that he means, and will continue to mean, to each one of us here. In particular we wish to express our love and prayers to Hugh’s wife Jean, to his sisters Rhoda, Margaret and Joan, to his children Alan, Alistair, Michael and Brian and their families, especially to his five grandchildren Melanie, Colin, Jamie, Jocelyn and Chloe.
And there is so much for which we can give thanks to God in Hugh’s life as we reflect on the passage which he chose for this service. Micah chapter 6 and verse 8. It is what is now called the Micah Challenge, being headed up by Joel Edwards, with the great vision of a world free from extreme poverty, with the aim of a global movement, encouraging people to be committed, really committed, to the poor, and to hold governments accountable to their pledge to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals, to the vision of the Prophet Isaiah and the Prophet Micah as we have just sung: ‘to ploughshares men shall beat their swords, to pruning hooks their spears.’
No wonder Hugh chose these words. Here was a man who didn’t just stand with a placard but went out and did things. He didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk.Although he did stand with many a placard, whether it was at Faslane, or with the Morningside Justice and Peace Group, with SCANA Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms of which he was on the Committee, and CND the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, or the Anti-Apartheid Movement, or a just solution for Israel and Palestine, or on the Committee of the United Nations Association in Edinburgh. Hugh was indefatigable and when it came to distributing pamphlets and addressing envelopes he was second to none.And it isn’t by coincidence that our offering today is for Amnesty International.
Having said all this he was essentially quite a quiet man. He was like the old owl who lived in an old oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. But when he did speak it was to some purpose. As someone said to me he was not flashy at all, well that was an understatement if ever there was one, modest and unassuming, a quiet man in whom still waters ran deep. Above all he was a very devoted Minister of the Gospel,deeply immersed in the Presbyterian tradition, with a wisdom and a concern for people which I first encountered in 1978 when he was in Thornton and I was in a neighbouring parish in Glenrothes. Having just spent twelve years in India I was in need of some TLC, from someone who both understood India and who could enable me to come to terms with the culture shock of the very different environment here in Scotland. Hugh, who had been born and baptised in Rajputana in India, came to my rescue and we remained firm friends ever since. Both he and May have always been a great source of inspiration and support to Anne and myself. But where did Hugh get all this from?
More recently in my role as secretary of the Fellowship of St Thomas both Hugh and Rhoda have helped me along and I realised that behind Hugh’s family there is a great tradition of missionary work both in India and here in Scotland. His great grandfather, Robert Skiell Drummond,was Moderator of the United Presbyterian Church in 1899 just before the Union with the Free Church; and his grandfather, Robert James Drummond, who was Minister of Lothian Road Church in Edinburgh from 1890 – 1951, Moderator of the UF General Assembly in 1918 and active in the great union of 1929.
In 1915 his mother, Helen Mary Collier, was working as a missionary teacher at Nasirabad and in 1923 met his father John Whitehorn Drummond, both serving with the United Free Church Mission, and who married in January 1925 and then worked at all the main mission stations in Rajputana in an area 350 miles long, until they returned to Scotland in 1954 having been instrumental in preparing the way for the great United Church of North India, whose last Assembly I myself attended in 1968 in Jullundur before the wider union of 1971 which formed the Church of North India.
It was within this kind of milieu that Hugh was born, attending school with Rhoda at the hill station of Landour, singing bhajans in Hindi such as ‘Rajah Isha ayah…’ – ‘Come, King Jesus…’ until in 1933 when he moved to Edinburgh to live with his grandfather and attended George Watson’s College. In 1941 he became a member of the Church of Scotland and of the Scripture Union, served in the war with the RAF and later with the Royal Scots in Palestine and Malta. 1947 saw him at St Andrew’s University and then for four years training for the ministry at New College in Edinburgh where he was active in the SCM. In 1953 he joined the Iona Community and was ordained in the North Kirk in Aberdeen where he served before becoming an army chaplain first to the Gordons and then to the Parachute Regiment where he completed the 8 jumps to qualify for the famous ‘red beret’. In August 1956 Hugh and May were married which no doubt improved his Latin and Greek not to mention his Gaelic! His later parishes included Eskdalemuir, Kilmuir Easter, Thornton, Pitsligo and Sandhaven and finally in Balmaclellan and Kells in New Galloway in Dumfriesshire before retiring in 1991. But as some of us know retirement is not exactly a stroll in the park and so he then served in various capacities in Barclay Church, in Westray, Papa Westray, Stronsay and Eday, in the City Hospital, in Muirhouse and also in May’s birthplace in Islay. So this quiet man, whom we all know and love, was quite a man!
Not only that he had the temerity to become a member of the Iona Community in 1953. His Family Group Convener told me: ‘I don’t think we had a Family Group that Hugh wasn’t at.’ The Leader of the Community told me that when we had Community Meetings Hugh was always there. I joined the Community much later in 1965 when George Macleod was 70 and he took Ben Sparks and me to CAMAS on Mull with 20 Borstal boys and had us swimming at 7 am each morning in the Sound of Iona! I’m not sure if that was how Hugh acquired his taste for swimming but an abiding memory for most of us will be of Hugh heading off to the shore for a swim, or playing his violin, or cycling, he was endlessly cycling, or playing football and rugby – he played for Langholm, or watching international matches at Nigel’s house complete with pies at half-time, or going with his children youth hostelling on bikes across the north of Scotland, attending all his grandchildren’s graduation ceremonies, or holidaying with his close friends Elizabeth and Robert Davidson, or picking up hitch-hikers on the road and taking them home for food and so much more. Sadly May died in 2009 and quite recently in May of this year Hugh married Jean a marriage which was short and sweet. Memories. So many memories – until at the last as Alan says: ‘The last time I saw Dad, when he was too weak and tired to raise his hand, but he had such a knowing look in his eyes.’ Or as Alistair puts it ‘the reaching of his hand to take my arm and then the reaching of his hand to hold my cheek…the lightest of kisses…and the looks of deep knowing and being known.’
Sometimes people say how sad to die at Christmas-time but that’s a mistake and certainly a mistake as far as Hugh is concerned. It was at Christmastime that the angels sang; ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill among all people.’ Just as at Eastertime when entering the gates of Jerusalem Jesus said with tears in his eyes:’Would that even today you knew the things which make for peace.’ And at the end he said ‘Peace I leave with you, not as the world gives give I to you, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’ Peace – on earth! That’s what the Micah Challenge is all about, that’s what the Iona Community is all about, that’s what Hugh is all about and that’s what Jesus is all about and that’s what heaven is all about as we listen, really listen to our Christmas carols
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.
And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love;
for that child so dear and helpless
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.
Good Christians, all rejoice with heart and soul and voice;
now you need not fear the grave,
Jesus Christ was born to save,
calls you one, and calls you all,
to gain his everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!
Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and, when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.
In the heavenly country bright,
need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown,
thou its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing
alleluias to our King.
Which is where we believe that Hugh is gathered now, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, and perhaps with the prophet Micah who might just whisper in his ear: “No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this:to do what is just, to show constant love, and to walk humbly with our God."
Let us pray: Loving God, in the midst of our sadness, we are so very thankful for all your goodness to us, to the generations who have gone before us and to those as yet unborn, and we thank you especially for the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and today particularly for all the members of Hugh’s family and friends gathered here today and for those who were unable to come. We ask you to bless each one in their own way with the comfort of your Holy Spirit that they may know your presence and your peace, not just today but in the days to come.
We also thank you for your servant Hugh, for all that makes him special for us and for all that you accomplished through him in the lives of many people unknown to us but known to you, and if it be your holy will tell him how we love him, how we miss him and how we long for the day when we will be with him again. These our prayers we make in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.