As I sit here at my desk, wondering what to write this week, I find myself reflecting on my ordinations and ministry of the past 23 years. It is indeed no doubt because of the upcoming ordination of a friend and colleague to the sacred priesthood this weekend. There is a large collage that hangs beside my desk that has pictures of the night I was ordained. There are pictures of me before the bishop during the examination. There are pictures of me standing proudly with my fellow clergy after the deed was done. But as I consider the collage, the most powerful ones are those of me being encircled by the Bishop and the clergy and the hands being laid on me as the sentence of consecration is spoken over me.
I wish that I could properly convey to you what that moment was like. There had been the craziness of a clergy having his keys locked in his van. There was a moment of incredible, even powerful silence as the Bishop and I were alone in the vestry, each to his own thoughts and prayers as we prepared for the service ahead. I remember and recall the power answer of “Yes, it is” from the congregation when the bishop asked if it was their will to see me ordained a priest. Yet it still comes back to that moment of the hands. I felt the heat, both natural and spiritual of the hands as they came down and stretch out to me. The weight of all those hands on me, made me vitally aware of the responsibility being placed on me as a presbyter. And yet at the same time a feeling of community and connectedness with my bishop and fellow clergy that seemed to deal with the burden of responsibility and the load that leadership in the community brings.
Speaking of community I can remember a situation, just before my ordination to the priesthood where I was visiting a grieving family. We had gathered in the family home to plan the funeral service for the deceased man in the community. It often happens that in the midst of grief, there are lighter moments. In one such moment, midst the tears, a family member told a story and out the deceased that was quite funny to help me k now and understand who their loved one was. And the story being funny, everyone laughed including me. This I think shocked another member of the family because she asked me if it was okay for me to laugh at jokes and tales. In reply with a big smile told her, “Don’t worry. I am only a deacon yet. The bishop will remove my sense of humour when he ordains me priest.” The laughter helped to ease the pain and the tears for a few moments and it actually help to form deeper relationships with the family and drew them back into the church community so that they could heal and be supported by the community.
What does this have to do with the Gospel? Everything. We are part of a worldwide community of people who believe, follow and proclaim the Lord Jesus. There are many who are called by God to come and enter into his kingdom and there are a few of us who are to lead the community under the authority of God preciously because they have been called and chosen. The clergy have been called by divine grace and that call has been recognized by the Church and those called are chosen to lead and serve in and beyond the Church. Just as the Church is called by God and through divine grace signs and proclaims the kingdom, midst both the laughter and the tears of this life and into the next.
When you get a chance this week, ask an ordained person about how they heard the call of God on their life so that you can see and hear the call of God upon you. Then together seek, seek and serve Christ where you together find him in the least, the last and the lost.