05 May 2011

Close to home

My thoughts today are with Our Wonderful Vicar who is presiding over the funeral of James Cooper, one of the two young Britons murdered in Florida.
James Cooper and his family are from Hampton Lucy, a tiny village in our six parish community. 
I have no doubt that Our Vicar will do a beautiful job; he has been quite diligent in seeking God’s wisdom and grace for what he should say.
Of course, addressing loss is always a challenging task, however, in extreme circumstances, such as this, it is all the more troubling.  
And, of course the media do not make this any easier. Our Vicar has been hounded by local and national media for details. I hope the families have been shielded from this onslaught.
As walked together from Morning Prayer, Our Vicar shared with me a remarkable Prayer that was added to the Book of Common Prayer in 1979 (I think), to address the loss caused by violent death.
This prayer – as I’m sure Our Vicar’s sermon will – addresses quite remarkably not only loss and grief, but touches on the incomprehension, the anger, doubt and disillusionment we can/do/may feel in these circumstances.  
Far from ‘airy-fairy’, this beautiful prayer validates the complex of emotions the grieving feel, but also provides a clear direction for moving forward.

After a violent death

God of love,
we thank you that N is in your gentle and loving hands,
far from the cruelty, violence and pain of our world.
When the trouble was near,
we could not understand how you seemed to remain far away.
And yet it is to you we turn;
for in life and death
it is you alone whom we can trust,
and yours alone is the love that holds us fast.
We find it hard to forgive the deed
that has brought us so much grief.
But we know that, if life is soured by bitterness,
an unforgiving spirit brings no peace.
Lord, save us and help us.
Strengthen in us the faith and hope that N
is freed from the past with all its hurt,
and rests for ever in the calm security of your love,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England

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