The Rev’d Heather Sizer
Heather Sizer was ordained as a local priest to the church in Wirrabarra in the mid-north of South Australia by Bishop David McCall in 2000. She died in 12 June 2020
Her daughter, Adrienne, recounts Heather’s faith journey:
We may assume, if we only remember Mum from her years of service in the church and acts of kindness in the community, that she always had a close relationship with God. But not so. Hers, like ours, involved a great deal of searching.
We came across Mum’s notes for a “short spiritual biography” written when she was going through the discernment process for Ordination as a Local Priest in 1999/2000. Mum noted the various searching periods of her life until it was, in her words, as if a “veil had been lifted and she was hungry for God and knowledge, and the Bible fell into place.” She was nearly fifty.
She noted her Grandmother’s influence, reading the Bible on the back veranda with her. She went to Methodist Sunday School, was confirmed at age 12 in the Church of England and attended a ‘hopeless’ Sunday School class while at school in Adelaide. She searched through her teen years knowing creation must be God’s handiwork and seeing him in the wonders of science and discovery.
Mum served in the church long before she found that closeness with God himself: cleaning, playing the organ, helping in wedding catering with the Church Guild. She dressed us every Sunday, raked Brylcream into the boys’ hair, left-side part, tied a penny in the corner of our hankies, and ushered us out the door to walk to the Methodist Sunday School. She taught Religious Instruction to Years 1-3, and attended church fortnightly, but in her own words “had no heart belief. God somewhere but remote. What I know is all there is.”
In her forties, she longed for renewal in the church, and tells of the influence of books she read and people such as Rev Brian Newman, Bp Bruce Rosier, Don and myself, and Rev Peter Smith who was our marriage celebrant and was vibrant in his faith in Jesus. She attended Baptism in the Spirit classes led by Peter and it was when she was vacuuming one day that she was filled with the Holy Spirit and felt that aliveness in Christ that she had searched for all those years. She wrote, “Prayer is a constant companion.” And, “Jesus is real. He is interested in me.”
I think that, though the feeling of unworthiness was assuaged somewhat at that point, it was still something she wrestled with through her life. She had a very low sense of entitlement, and rarely expressed her own needs or wants. In many ways, it was difficult to know how to bless her—except to do things for her because ‘acts of service’ was her primary love language. Her need to do and serve is typified to me in the times after meals when she would suddenly place both hands on the table and push herself up saying, “Well, this won’t do!” It was this service combined with her gratitude and love for Jesus that made her pour herself out emotionally, physically and financially to the church and community. We’ve counted at least 23 charities who were recipients of her constant financial contributions.
I recall times when I saw the depth of her intimate relationship with Jesus: her and Dad sitting in the sitting room by the fire reading the Bible and praying together, her sitting after breakfast with her Bible, reading, praying, making notes for a service or for herself and stuffing them between the pages. Her many Bibles and Prayer Books are twice as thick as when she first bought them.
Mum wrote a poem in 89-90 when she was suffering with Meniere’s disease, an affliction of the inner ear that causes dizziness and nausea. She asked God to take her then, but he said, “No, not yet. I will help you bear this.”
“With Him in me I can go on;
It will be His strength that makes me strong.
When my work for him on earth is done,
Then He’ll take me home where I belong.”
Mum lived and served another three decades.
To Mum’s family and friends, I ask you to take this encouragement from her life—persist in your own search for God in Jesus Christ. This is what Mum desired. In her words, she had a “longing for people to find peace and joy in knowing Jesus.” Jesus himself said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-12
My dear Mum, thank you for being my Mum, for wonderful years of loving Jesus and of your example of a Christ-led life, a life well-lived. Thank you for the peace I have knowing that you were ready to go and knowing where you are. You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. Now you are receiving the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, awards to you—and not only to you, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Tim 4:7-8