A PRIEST, now dead, who meant a great deal to me for many years used to say again and again to my confected spiritual agonisings, “Well, you just need to get on with it.” He was a great one for the Christian’s treading the well-worn paths of prayer, scripture, sacrament, and service which are found in countless “ordinary” Christian lives: nothing special, but always faithful. Just get on with it.
I suspect that Stuart Bamforth came from this stable. He died in 2015, having served for 52 years as a priest in the Church of England, both in educational settings and parochial posts in predominantly rural parts of Yorkshire and Norfolk. In Don’t Fuss, Love God, Don’t Fuss, his daughter Ruth Bamforth has edited and arranged a selection of his sermons, and provided as a preface a full and moving tribute to her father’s ministry.
Volumes of sermons are mostly content to be in some kind of order, thematic or chronological, for instance. Not here: Bamforth’s words have been carefully gathered to form a systematic whole, under different themes: What is a Christian? Prayer and the Bible, and deep analyses of the Lord’s Prayer; the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, marriage, and the eucharist; and, last, an examination of vocation, both lay and ordained. Each section is prefaced by a brief summary, and followed by questions for thought or discussion.
This is good solid teaching (lucky the congregations to have benefited from it), but here it is given a new life as a kind of “primer” in Christian faith and practice. The style and language are of their time, and none the worse for that. This is a very useful book to give to an intelligent enquirer, or else could be read as a preparation for group discussion. “Traditional” in all the best ways.
The Revd Peter McGeary is the Vicar of St Mary’s, Cable Street, in east London, and a Priest-Vicar of Westminster Abbey.
Don’t Fuss, Love God, Don’t Fuss
Ruth Bamforth, compiler
Church Times Bookshop £8.99