One of the highlights of this year's Greenbelt was an interview with James Wood and Tom Hollander, creators of Rev. Rev is a BBC2 comedy from earlier this summer which was about the life of a innercity Anglican vicar, Adam Smallbone (played by Tom Hollander). It was a fantastically insightful, well-researched and funny look at modern ministry, which received lots of great reviews. Non-UK readers look out for it on DVD or possibly BBC America. The first episode looked at people who showed up at church in order to get their child into the local CofE school; the second, the issues arising when another church takes over with smoothie bar, sofas and their awesome vicar Darren (clip here); the third was about a Muslim group wanting to use the church and a lap-dancing club opening across the school; the fourth was about Adam's jealous of another vicar's popularity on TV and radio; the fifth was about the loneliness of ministry; and the sixth is about Adam's crisis of faith. There were many great moments, as well as some bits when I thought it went a little too far in its humour. Two moments that stand out. In episode 2 when Adam says to Darren that his service was 'more show that sacrament' - a timely reminder that being relevant and contemporary (see here) can leave behind faithfulness and truthfulness. And in episode 6 when Adam has reached rock bottom in his crisis of faith, he is asked to pay a pastoral visit to a dying woman and he is reminded of the verse read at his ordination from Isaiah 6: 'the Lord said whom shall I send? and I said 'Send me'. Something about being called to ministry regardless of self-doubt and uncertainty that comes with life and also that his ordination affirmed God's call on his life.
The conversation with Wood and Hollander was revealing as well as amusing. They talked about their desire for the show to be authentic and how they discovered through their research and doing the show the demands that come with minsitry. While neither of them are what others might call committed believers, they have created a show and characters who capture the demands, the difficulties and the joys of Christian life and ministry.