We gathered today in St Ninian’s Cathedral to say our farewells to Bishop Michael Hare Duke. He was bishop in this diocese for 25 years and exercised significant influence beyond that.
Inevitably – since it was the funeral of the bishop – I did some reflecting on it all while we were in church together.. And two things in particular seemed important,
The first was that we had a proper funeral liturgy – a Eucharist, some wonderful music, reflection on Michael’s life and proclamation of resurrection hope,
That’s important because our funeral rites are under considerable pressure – pressure to have a small funeral service for close family followed later in the same day by a Memorial Service. I am entirely opposed to that. Memorial Services have their place – removed at some distance from the time of death, But they are no substitute for a funeral service with its sense of progression – and its combination of support for the bereaved, thanksgiving for a life and faith-filled proclamation of resurrection hope.
My second reflection was about the nature of episcopal ministry and the mixed feelings with it engenders. I suspect that it is difficult to the point of impossible to exercise authority in the church – however carefully and pastorally – without experiencing conflict.
It was a worthy send-off – a good expression of the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral strengths of our church – a worthy response to a remarkable ministry