By Sam Wells, Sarah Coakley, Rowan Williams
Praying for England displays at the function of Christian priesthood in modern tradition, and is derived up with a few amazing and well timed insights approximately its efficacy and value. There are ritual and consultant features of the priest, it argues, which stay spiritually and socially important, even - maybe specifically - in a society which ostensibly ignores the Church, or seems so pluralistic as to lack any non secular unity. The priestly position as mediator ahead of God of society's inner most pains, losses, joys and irresolvable anxieties is right here reimagined, and taken freshly to existence notwithstanding relocating narratives of pastoral come across. specially, the priest is noticeable as person who is going on ‘praying for England' in decisive yet usually uncelebrated methods, prayer being the executive degree and attempt of the priest's consultant function.
This is a deceptively easy quantity - theologically obtainable yet frequently deeply relocating and profound. In it a brand new imaginative and prescient is sketched of the way Christian priesthood can move ahead at the present time with humility, understated dignity, and religious energy. it is going to be of specific curiosity to English churchpeople in an ‘established' surroundings, yet is written no much less with an ecumenical and overseas readership in mind.
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As we fed on it in expectant silence, we prayed that it would sustain us through the day. A few minutes before 12 o'clock the deeply apprehensive silence around the church was broken by the unmistakeable sound of horses' hooves on tarmac, and then, under the trees, the hearse appeared. Television cameras and newspaper photographers jostled for position in the small area set aside for them. It was time for deep breaths and deliberate calm. The undertakers did their usual business with trestles and flowers, and as the clock struck midday we were at the church door ready to go.
I was aware that some felt that I had been a comfort to the family - but this was not primarily about being a pastor or a counsellor. It was not about helping but sharing, acknowledging that this had happened, hearing the story. And just as part of the purpose of the funeral was to affirm Adam's dignity and individuality as a child of God, so my presence at the courtroom was about affirming and acknowledging the depth of his suffering. In this I was God's representative, God's witness. This was a deeply uncomfortable role, and I struggled in it.
Representation 27 In this way Adam's funeral, six months after his death, was like any other. It was carefully planned, but it did not consist of the words on the page of the service sheet. Rather, it was an event that was made up of all the various elements that came together on the day. It was like a carnival, if one accepts that a carnival has its darker side; that among the celebrations there is an acknowledgement of some of the dread, the menace and the dark side of life. At the Parochial Church Council meeting during the previous week we had been able to spend time on the question of hosting the service.
Praying for England: Priestly Presence in Contemporary Culture by Sam Wells, Sarah Coakley, Rowan Williams