SPCK Publishing, 112 pages
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and professor of theology at the University of Cambridge, joined with the worshipping community of St. Clements in Cambridge to provide pastoral services as needed (a position Presbyterians will recognize as that of parish associate). At the beginning of the global pandemic, St. Clement’s, like all congregations, began online services, including weekly meditations by members and Williams, the brilliant theologian. Such a role for Williams might intimidate the ordinary pastor. Yet, Williams’ humility becomes quickly clear in this collection of those meditations. Rather than reminding the reader of his status, on the first pages he acknowledges the members of the St. Clement’s congregation. What follows is six months of weekly meditations and an epilogue commentary about the vocation of the church in such a time as this.
The meditations began with the intriguing question about the foundations that have been and are being laid for “whatever new opportunities God has for us on the far side of this crisis.” In these meditations, Williams reflects deeply upon the concerns brought forward by the ongoing pandemic: the capacity to trust; the necessity of community; the hidden idolatries exposed; the meaning of liturgy; the challenge of technology; and the need for practices that draw us more deeply into God with one another. The epilogue begins with a riveting line from the prophet Jeremiah, “the summer is ended and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20) — reminding us of our foolish predictions, along with the questions that now challenge us. “Ultimately the question for us as a society is whether we have grown through the solidarity into which we have been forced.”