There was a nice piece in yesterday’s Mirror about Richard Coles. In the eighties he was one half of the Communards; now he’s a Church of England priest.
In an age in which churchpeople are customarily pelted with derision, it’s worth calling to mind some of the virtuous deeds that Coles and his kind perform daily. Whatever you think of the theology, there has to be admiration for the heroic humility. And recognition.
“For example, this morning a naked man turned up at my door. He’s a regular caller and sometimes forgets to put his clothes on. I barely blink when I see him in the buff now. Welcoming him into the church is part of my job.
“As a priest I offer something to anyone who knocks at my door. A listening ear, some food, a sleeping bag or, in this man’s case, trousers.
“And that, in a nutshell, is why clergymen and women matter. We offer people something everyone needs and no one else gives.
“Ok, many get by without ever beating a path to our door. But we’re still here, trying our best to look after the weak and vulnerable.”
Coles has, of course, performed many funerals, not all of them noneventful:
“At another funeral, minutes before the service, the widow of the deceased handed me a note she had found among her dead husband’s belongings. She said he had wanted it to be read out.
“I had a brief glance at it beforehand, but when I started reading it I realised his note was apportioning blame for the things that had gone wrong in his life to people who were in the congregation. I had to hastily edit as I went along. It was ghastly.
“But nothing is as bad as my colleague’s disastrous first burial. The gravediggers forgot to dig the grave and he didn’t know what to do – so ended up covering the coffin with a sheet of artificial grass.
“Then there are the nearly-but-not quite funerals. I was called out to visit an old lady in a nursing home because she was dying. I was shown to her room and she was sleeping.
“As I anointed her, she opened one eye and said: “You’re a bit early, me duck.” She made a full recovery.”
Read it all here.