The last post of the Church of England; an Evensong in every Cathedral in the country. The faithful remnant, curious onlookers, those who had not been to church much or even at all were there, to say I was there at the end. Clergy flock to the services, the quires are packed, there is a tense excitement about this; it has finally come to an end!
The smug grins of the secularists are wiped into astonishment and bewilderment as the country mourns the passing of the Church of England. Every clock is set by the services which pass at the same moment across the land. The expectant jubilation that the secular has won the day has been thwarted by the Eulogy for the Church. The knowledge that it ‘had its day’ defies even the staunchest atheist, the notion that it ‘has had its day’ is the uniting factor which drives everyone forward. The expectation, the newness that comes from a vacuum of nominal christian religious expression.
The Hymn, ‘The day thou gavest Lord is ended’ begins this solemn departure; psalms and canticles sung with reverence to the historic formularies.
The singing of the final Nunc Dimittis echoes with timelessness, with the sense that this time it means what it says, thy servant is now to depart in peace. Time to go, to hang up the cassock, surplice and scarf. To go to what? The questions of the emptiness left in the gulf left behind are pregnant with possibility, a return to the victorian way now a closed door. What will emerge as new shoots from this enterprise? It is this which the secularists fear, the unknown, the only thing they ever feared, Death. The one thing that the religious had up their long flowing sleeves, the courage to die, to allow death to take its course, to die well.
The resurrection to a new dawn awaits, the light for the gentiles shines in the warm earth full of expectation and delight to be nurtured and developed.
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the Glory of thy people Israel.