As Terry Wogan was wont to say, most years as I recall, Nights are drawing in – soon be Christmas. And before we all groan at the use of the ‘c’ word before advent or even autumn has begun. He had a point and was reflecting the solar calendar. That at midsummer we are half way through the year. On 24th June we very often forget to celebrate the birth of John the Baptist the one who came to point the way towards Jesus. They were no fools, those who put the calendar together. Putting our celebrations at the high and low points of the solar year. John the baptist was not born yesterday (in more ways than one) but six months before that other significant date, we mark his birth. The one who was to decrease as the other increased. Yesterday we witnessed a radical thing in Bangor Cathedral and if you didn’t make it, then I would urge you to consider it next year. An ordination service is a radical thing. In the presence of distinguished company and honoured guests, friends and family young and old. Ten people dedicated their life in service to God and to the church. This is not an agenda the world recognises as significant or even particularly important. And that is good. For the moment it does, there will be some financial initiative and the whole radical edge will be lost. Ordination services are particularly important for they set apart those for particular ministries. Those who themselves will decrease that others increase. It is at its heart a service of humility. That ministry will bring many things including the sword that Jesus speaks of. Families will be tested, tensions will run high. Loyalties will be divided. At midsummer it is a good time of year, for more than one reason to be on the beach. The beach is a place on the edge. A meeting point of sea, sky and earth. So to is it a meeting point each year for our ordination services. As the waves on the beach crash in, each one brings with it a new image, sand and stones thrown up and cast down before us. Such is the experience of being at the service of ordination. Memories of past, and the new future to come are brought before us. It is a meeting place of past, present and future. The thoughts of the years of training will crash as waves upon those prepared for this day, the present will manifest itself as a new experience as each moment comes and the future is before them, a new ministry, a new chapter. We are gathered in and sent out. The dioceses across Wales gathered yesterday at their respective cathedrals to be sent out to the parishes. In a similar way we too are gathered in here, to be sent out. The cartoon on the back of the sheet may seem like pointing fun at the training and initial tasks of those called to ministry, but they are called to be humble servants. Dave Walker has captured to essence of ordination. Sometimes our calling is to prepare a way, or even just prepare the chairs. Open the door, put on the lights, create a welcoming place and gather folk in, in order that we send them out into the world. They too will decrease as they offer the gifts and fruits of the spirit to all they encounter. We pray for them in their daily calling.
We celebrated with Ruth last night as she was ordained into the Church of Scotland as a ‘Minister of Word and Sacrament’ at Lochmaben. It was her father’s comments to which the title alludes as he preached with reference to Exodus 1:15-21 (Midwife) and Mark 10:35-45 (Servant).
Enabling the congregation to fulfil their potential is a birthing process, a process that requires the skills of a midwife, but one who is also the least of all and servant to the people. A wonderful image of a minister, one who enables the (re)birthing of peoples skills time and talents for God’s kingdom. It was great to be there for Ruth’s ordination, if not a little saddle sore after a 6 hour round trip!!
… of emotion etc.
Well one ordination and one Sunday in five services starting with 1984 green book Eucharist and ending with evensong, that’s about enough for one week I feel!
We will also be eating chicken curry for a month, due the ambitious over ordering from the butcher after yesterdays festivities!
Thanks to those who came along to support
The details for the book from the last post – pre-ordination – is as follows!!
(for the confused and non-readers of resurgence
Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judi Levine !)