Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

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.


Doorkeeper said...

'..spectating of family and friends..'

I'm well out of my area of competence save for having been a 'receiver' of funeral liturgy on numerous occasions, but providing something on behalf of the bereaved and at which they can just spectate is not necessarily inappropriate. All the 'stuff' surrounding a close death is difficult, challenging and often unfamiliar and to have one bit - the funeral - which you can just let an expert 'do' on your behalf can be an immense relief.

Rachel F said...

You're quite right - and of course ideas of 'participation' in liturgy are many. We don't have to be doing or saying in order to be fully engaged and fully part of what is going on. I suppose that Friday's service just struck a chord in me, it was in tune with my own way of being and understanding.