Last week I was licenced as Priest Missioner in the Gillingham Deanery. For me this was a special night as I was commissioned by Bishop James. The role I have been licenced for has taken a lot of work and discussion to get off the ground. Bishop James himself mentioned how complicated a licence it was to encompass all the different areas I am working in. I’m really thankful for the people that have been working behind the scenes to get this off the ground.
It was very important to me personally to receive the bishop’s permission and backing for this work and incredibly encouraging to see so many friends and family members there to support me. I was genuinely so surprised to see so many people turn up.
Bishop James spoke from Isaiah 52 and spoke particularly about the role of the ‘watchman’ or ‘sentinel’ in verse 8. He spoke about how my role, and the role of the pioneer, was similar to the that of the watchman in Isaiah.
The watchman had a variety of roles. There was the role of guardian, watching over the walls and alerting those inside to what was happening outside. There was the role of looking out, to notice what was ‘out there’ and thinking through what an appropriate response would be to what had been observed. Bishop James implied the role could also be one of bridging, of being a person that linked quite well between the two … between those ‘inside the walls’ and those ‘outside’.
I have been playing round with these words and images in my mind over the last few days and have noticed some other words that further illustrate the watchman role. We could use, bouncer, chaperone, lookout, custodian, defender, shepherd. Although I can see how they are all valid; of them all the combination of guardian and look out probably resonate with me the most as I seek to notice, respond and then develop something that fits within the ‘walls’ of our orthodox faith.
Often it is not a comfortable place, but it is a place I am happy to be in for the time being…