The cry of a child in an empty tomb


Resurrection is the finger of God

on my scars

and a deep breath

to start again.

I hope there are no more episodes of BBC2 series Rev.

In the final episode, all the usual elements were there. Comedy – in the poorly made coffee, stolen Easter eggs and slapstick dancing. Wit – most memorably in an all too believable jargon-filled job interview – and, as Nigel surfed the web looking for dates, gentle digs at the established Church.

However, this was an episode where poignancy and pathos took centre stage – in the death Bongo, in the radishes planted for the future occupants of the soon to be ‘Old Vicarage of St Saviours’, in the over-heard, prayers of the other characters – Alex Adam’s wife, Nigel the hapless lay reader and the obsequious archdeacon Robert – and recognising oneself in the worst of them and Adam, himself like a Pope of the Waste Places intoning Easter praise whilst smoke ascends disturbing the pigeons as well as a disgruntled neighbour having a lie-in.

Allusion to the elements of the Easter story flowed; the spiteful critics continued to snipe, Jesus curled up in a bed of sorrow turned away from people who sought him out, ignoring the cries of those closest to him, Mary Magdalene trying her best and eventually leading him to walk toward the moment of bringing new life to light.

But, of course, it is important to keep a sense of perspective. While Rev offered a wry commentary on the decline of Institution in England and raised the question of what a ‘Post-Christian’ Church might be, we shouldn’t expect – or read – meaning into everything in such a television programme. In the end, it was just that: a television programme. And as such (whether it returns or not) it is destined to become as time-locked and strange as its 1960s predecessor ‘All Gas and Gaiters’.

Might it have a legacy? I hope so – at least a reality-check for those who might be imagining they have a vocation to the priesthood: only the seriously mortal should apply.

I also hope the television executives don’t succumb to pressure and feel the need to tell us what happens next. There is no point. We know it already. Adam, High Priest of the Empty Church, has done what priests to do. They gather the awkward and demanding, the dutiful and profane, the screeching child and the cooing parent. They utter the words of unchanging love. And then they, if they are brave enough, they let go, they withdraw, they move on.

And a child of our time, crying out in fear, is left to find her way out of the darkened tomb.

 Photo: BBC/Big Talk/Handle with Prayer Ltd/Mark Johnson

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