Thoroughly Anglican in culture and nuance, and while modern (but not “preachy”) in the dogmatics: yes, the CofE has homosexual priests; yes, the CofE has female clergy, the depth of understanding of the complexity of applied theology and pastoral care is plummeted, with humor. The series begins with Adam welcoming folks to the “dynamic and vibrant” inner city church, and then you see sparse pews. It turns out he is contending with a parish left in disarray when the previous priest departed to become Roman Catholic. Adam is immediately dealing with the frustrating reality of folks attending your parish only so they can get a discount sending their kids to the parish school - “Be on your knees, Avoid the fees”! It ends with the church closing, three seasons later, and yet, in the final scene the “ministry team” enters into the boarded-up church, looking very much like a sepulcher, once more to hold Easter Vigil and to, finally, baptize the Vicar’s child for which they longed for so long. There is an acknowledgement of the dying Anglican church, enveloped by a Muslim neighborhood, but a hope that, while a parish here and there may close, the Church remains strong as ever because of the Risen Christ and His promise to be with the Church until the end of the ages, and with the corresponding directive from Matthew 28, that we are to Baptize, despite how hopeless the world appears to be and how short-lived our future seems to be.
Is this not a very important part of the Easter Message? Clement of Rome writes, quite early on in the Christian era, saying:
Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed.
Here we note a few things: Jesus was anointed for his burial, both by the Wise Men at his birth and prior to his death by a penitent sinner, washing his feet. Albeit in a new tomb, he is placed in a sepulcher and from there, according to the practice of the time, he was expected to decompose and his bones would then be “gathered to his fathers” i.e. “the bones of its parent”. Jesus was seen by thousands in public events after his resurrection and the Phoenix “in open day, flying in the sight of all men . . . places . . . on the altar of the sun” which speaks to the forty days between His “mighty resurrection and glorious ascension”.
Beloved, we are more than hopers in the Resurrection, we set our whole store by it. If it that easy for Christ to do, to raise the dead, why do we worry about changing demographics, changing generations, and, occasionally, some closed churches? They are easy to reopen, like sealed tombs; they are easy, to resurrect, like dry bones in a dry valley.
Picture from Phil Fisk and The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/mar/15/olivia-colman-tom-hollander-rev