Tuesday, January 28, 2014

glimpses of glory

Inevitably as a parish priest you bury people.

Three years ago on this blog, just as I was stopping doing funerals, I made a comment about Tom Long's superb book Accompany Them With Singing. It is a wonderfully Christian book about death and the things we do around death. I wished I had had it when I was first ordained. Three years ago I didn't know if I would ever put its wisdom to use again.

But now I am grateful for Tom's words, his theology, his understanding of people and the Scriptures and his grasp of God's care of us from our first days to our last - and beyond.

I met Tom, once. Briefly. He has no idea. I heard him preach; simply brilliant. The people who touch us, I suppose, the people who shape us and never know. Tom - thank you. There are folk in my life now, as I resume pastoral ministry, who are profoundly affected by your work and don't know it, as they only get to feel it through my mediating hands and eyes and voice. But I know. And I thank you for the larger sight of God you have given me, and the framework to help others connect with Jesus in fragile times.

I am experiencing a season where all of this is carrying a particular relevance. My prayers and thoughts are filled with dear, dear folk who have lost friends, parents, spouses; I am deeply feeling the sorrow of loss and singing the songs of resurrection.

It's the worst part of the job; it's the deepest privilege.