POIGNANTLY REVEREND

TWO LOVELY HOUSE CALLS in the late afternoon sunlight today, and interestingly I’ve come away from both reflecting upon conversations about “Reverend” tv characters, including, most recently, Tom Hollander‘s version of a harassed London vicar who, my companions said, “within the space of five minutes can come across as both a hapless and a hopeless case and just what the doctor ordered – you know, he just seems to have a knack for saying the right thing at the right time, doesn’t he? He’s both funny and poignant” …

Funny and poignant. How fascinating. Who was it used to sing about The Fool On The Hill ?

Perhaps I’ve spent nearly thirty ordained years being funny and poignant. Or is it longer than that? – perhaps all 53? Does “funny and poignant” actually describe all human life, for all of us, pretty much all of the time? Poignantly Reverend …

REV …

IT’S HEARTENING that the BBC want to air a programme about a parish priest let alone a series. And an absolute delight tonight to see little Adam Smallbone (Tom Hollander) – with a spot of help from the (horrendously smooth) archdeacon – see off the take-over bid of the tall and swaggering, wealthy “evangelical” Darren. There’s a touch of the prophet in old Auntie yet to be celebrated. Remember the camel and the eye of a needle?

“More show than sacrament”, the vicar said of Darren’s having “given” a service. Smoothies and sofas and large screen tv’s in this context give me the creeps to put it politely. And “Growing Churches” that are intent on seeing off anything that doesn’t quite come up to scratch are the very antithesis of the good news entrusted to the truly “evangelical”.

So the empty pews and the discordant singing of Adam’s core congregation were, oddly enough, welcome sight and sound by the end of tonight’s episode. Joy in heaven, I like to think, that “nobody loves me” Colin’s contribution is still being valued and welcomed, because somebody does.

The “weak liberal” Rev, the present writer, hoping and praying for a really Christ-like outcome to the kerfuffle of the past couple of days over the Southwark appointment, is altogether more cheerful after a half hour in front of the telly than he was at the beginning of the day. For I find myself thanking God that sometimes it’s the little guy who wins, that sometimes the struggles with finances, and bums in pews, really do give way to the invigorating good news of real gospel, and that the “cost” turns out to be worth the candle.

God bless the little guys (not such a bad translation of Adam Smallbone) ; God bless those who laugh and cry whilst watching Rev. And may God bless the Diocese of Southwark, again, with the gift of another gifted, holy, teaching, welcoming and inclusive pastor. May we dare to hope that “his name shall be John”? The much vaunted “cost” would surely turn out to be worth it – for the the ensuing illumination.

“Your church is ours now” said the confident and ghastly Darren. Not so, Goliath. Not so. My church belongs to God.