This week is the anniversary of my ordination to the sacred priesthood. It will be seven years ago Saturday that I went to St. Peter’s Church in Westport, White Bay and was ordained as a pastor, priest and teacher in the Church. I remember that moment vividly for a number of reasons not the least of which there is a great collage of pictures that was given to me as an ordination present to help me remember that night.
But then I recall the Day – the Christian feast day on which I was ordained: All Saints Day. Over the years, there are two consistent things that people have said to me about saints and sainthood: (1) I don’t want to be a saint, you’ve got to be kidding me and (2) to be a saint you have to be dead and I am not dead yet. Moreover, they often think that when I tell them that they are becoming more and more like their Father, they think that I am teasing or kidding.
In my own case, I waited months to feel like a priest after ordination. I can remember sitting through lectures and writing papers, doing projects while still being a father and a husband... hoping and praying that when I got there that I would get “it” and that I would really like “it” and be a really good, even holy priest. And then I became concerned because it was not happening. Ministry in the parish was like it was before. Things were happening and going much like before. I knew that I was a priest but I did not feel like one. This feeling went on for some time until, standing at the altar one Sunday, I finally got “it”. No, I didn't suddenly become a paragon of Anglican ministry having been zapped by the Spirit. Rather, I finally understood that the moment of ordination was a moment of public declaration of ministry. I was publicly entrusted with the life and leadership of the Church. God had called me because he made me to be a priest, and I was responding and living out that call. And that is when I realized that sainthood and holiness for the whole Church works in the same manner.
We are the children of the most high God. God has chosen us, God loves us and God is continually blessing us as we seek, see, and strive to serve him. We are in this moment blessed. We are blessed not because we are special or have done certain things or acted in particular ways but we are blessed nonetheless. We are blessed and then we go to do our ministries and we come back to this sacred place to be renewed, replenished, resorted and reminded that we are blessed. Then we go again and re peat the cycle. It is only through going to ministry and returning from ministry that we can begin to see patterns of how God is working in our lives and the lives of those around us so that we can recognize that God is fulfilling his promises to us and transforming the community around us.
In blessing us, God brings to bear all that he has in store for each and for all of us. We are blessed so that we are effective in living out the out the Good news and the proclamation of the kingdom and at the same time, blessed so that we can live into the kingdom that is coming through the grace and plan of God.
We are blessed. We are being blessed right here and right now. This is not just a future tense thing where we will suddenly arrive and we will know it all and we will be “it”. We are being blessed and we may not know why or what for – that is for a later time. We need to go and live life so you can figure what you are called to and then come back praising and rejoicing and then go and do it.
And that is what I intend to do all over again in my eighth year of priesthood: go and discover the ministry to the minors and then do it – wherever and whenever, knowing that God has already been there and I don’t have to worry about “it”.