Friday, 15 July 2011
The Work of the People
As someone who ventures occasionally to call themselves a liturgist I have repeatedly used the term 'work of the people' in countless essays and conversations over the last few years. This afternoon I led a funeral for a lovely family whose mum had died aged 52. Funeral liturgy in the modern world is a minefield, balancing between being clear and intelligible and culturally apt and maintaining the theological meaning and integrity of the event. On more than one occasion I have taken funerals which felt more like the work of the clergy and the spectating of the family and friends. Some of that is my own fault, I'm still learning, but some of it has to do with a lack of confidence amongst the populace at large to express themselves in a faith context. I'm not going into that now - I just wanted to say this afternoon that I've just been part of a funeral that was the work of the people in every sense. Beautiful and dignified, but honest and modern in the church, then boots on and shovels out at the graveside with spontaneous stories, prayers and singing, before grave all filled we shared the final blessing. I love it when real people teach me how liturgy works.