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Hallo again to all.Lazarus Come Forth (stained-glass)

This week we attended the funeral of a former bishop diocesan who was a dear friend of ours and of many Anglicans Online staff, past and present. Members of AO's staff were singing with the choir, sitting among diocesan staff, or joined out of town friends of the family. It was a send-off that our friend would have been proud of, because it displayed the unity and commitment to follow Jesus that had been the hallmark of his episcopate.

We have seldom seen this particular cathedral so full, both the principal nave and the side chapel with overflow visitors. No less than the Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church (USA), gave the homily, and the funeral rites of the church were carried out by the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. The music was grander, the number of clergy in attendance larger, but it was the same familiar cadence that has comforted many a family and many a parish at the death of someone dearly beloved: 'I am Resurrection and I am Life says the Lord.' We carried out our solemnities in the more prisco of our Anglican forebears.*

The occasion was undeniably sorrowful, but during the midst of it, we were struck with the joy of seeing so many friends and loved ones from our wider Anglican world gathered in one place to worship God as an act of devotion to someone they cared about dearly—and who had cared for them equally so. As the last chords of Brahms' 'How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place' poured out from the choir stalls, it occurred to us that George would have hated to miss this.

Of course, we do not believe that he missed it, not in any real sense. He is alive with the saints in light and sorrows no more. We gathered to weep with his family as Jesus wept with his friends over the death of Lazarus, and that was meet and proper so to do. We also were among those who stood by the graveside as his remains were interred in the earth, which we do in faith that like the seed, it portends only a temporary cessation.

When all was said and done, though, we could only think what a shame it was that it sometimes takes events like this to bring us (the collective 'us' here) together in unity of faith and worship. Some matters that divide our Communion will never be adiaphora, but we do think that the realities of life and death sometimes make even weighty matters a bit lighter. Against the backdrop of the turmoil in Haiti's recent episcopal elections, we hope that the example of one man who walked with Jesus reminds us all a bit more keenly about what is really important in life: following Jesus, following the Gospel, and loving our neighbors.

As he might have said, right onward.

See you again next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

3 June 2018

* The 'ancient custom', here the Anglican use, not the more prisco of Catullus 101, which we commend to anyone mourning the loss of a family member.

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