Angela M. Smith: May 2019
All the members present at a meeting of the Good Faith Book Club, agreed that this short book was easy to read and several of them had read it through thoughtfully for a second time. Samuel Wells had written it primarily to encourage fellow Anglican priests, but since Methodists believe in the priesthood of all believers, we felt that it was relevant to our own lives.
In the introduction, which made up the first 26 pages of the 97 page book, Samuel described the power of silence, touch, words and prayer. The therapeutic benefit of singing was also acknowledged. The rest of the book consists of brief accounts of the ways Samuel has learned important lessons from contact with a wide variety of people. We discussed a few of these narratives. There was the fireman, who stitched the 3 nails he had been given at a Good Friday service, to his uniform and touched them, as he prayed for faith, courage and hope, whenever the Brigade was called out. Then there was the woman, who was able to forgive the priest, who had said he could not conduct her wedding, because she had lost her ring finger and the woman, who at long last realised she had made a mistake in refusing to allow her husband to divorce her. He had subsequently committed suicide. Was Samuel right to remain silent, when she told him, her story? It was generally thought, at our meeting, that people have to search for answers for themselves. The story of a man, who Samuel had once admired, but had later been jailed for inappropriate relationships with underaged men, called forth much discussion. Can people be judged good in parts? It was decided, that there are few, who need to be separated from main society, some perhaps for the rest of their lives, to protect the vulnerable, but ways do need to be found, to help them manage their behaviour.
Samuel also described, how he had been inspired by a service commemorating the recipients of Victoria Crosses and George Crosses. They had shown him, what Jesus is like, for they had demonstrated that there Is something stronger than death and that is perfect love.
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