Chalk and Cheese

discernA bit like Chalk and Cheese or Harold and Hilda, Hay and Straw even, Peter and Paul are alike, but different.  If I can add one more pair into that – Deacon and Priest.  Alike but different.  Yesterday we saw Lorraine and Sam ordained as priests and Jonathan as a deacon.  I’ll return for a moment to the image from last weekend, the labyrinth.  You might think that getting to the point of ordination is a bit like playing snakes and ladders where there are many snakes and few ladders.  I couldn’t possibly comment!  But I do think it is a bit like the journey we take walking around the labyrinth.  We might not always know where we are going, or even why we are headed in this direction, but there is only one path and it does eventually lead to the middle!  So being at the heart of a service of ordination can be a bit like standing at the centre of the Labyrinth amongst those stones set closely around in a neat circle.  For the moment we have arrived and all is calm, though we are not always exactly sure how we quite got to this moment exactly. However, the journey outwards must begin for the journey in to be truly completed.  We can though if we wish, at any time just step off and walk away.  And so through a complicated ritual of words and actions which are basically there to say ‘we acknowledge your calling by god to this ministry’ we have Deacon and Priest, the same but different.  Both called in service and ministry to God’s people.  And we recognise today in the feast of Ss Peter and Paul two characters so very much the same, but different.  One died on a cross, upside down, one beheaded – so we are told.  But both receive a revelation about God, different, but the same.  Peter in the company of Jesus – ‘You, you are the Christ’.  and Paul once Saul on the road to persecution, becomes a part of the road to salvation.  You could say we are stuck between the Rock and a Hard Case.  (sorry)
The journey inwards towards the centre of the labyrinth for Peter and Paul was a journey beset by all manner of twists and turns, but upon arriving at the centre, following the revelation from God – from Peter – ‘You are the Christ’ and to Paul ‘Why are you persecuting me?’  Both begin to share and build in their own way the church of God and of the eternal Christ.  No pressure then, (ha) for those ordained this day to live up to the example of the greatest of apostles, teachers and pilgrims.  To begin that path, the first step is often the hardest, but it begins with the experience of Peter in the company of Jesus.  You know the ones which begin, “Eh Jesus?  Yes Peter?  Jesus why do we always….  Oh no Peter, not this here we go again.”  And yet it leads to the cry, ‘You are the christ.’  So that first step for each of us?  Simple really, we just begin by saying, ‘Look, here is the eternal Christ’ as we point to bread and to wine, to water, and oil, to fire and to earth, to sky and to sea.  To love and to hope.  To a small voice crying in the midst of the darkness.  To a gentle breeze gently moving us on.  We dream the same dreams and fear the same fears, we see the same stars.  We take the same small first steps on a path towards the light.

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