This is church?

Tomorrow, with my other colleagues in the diocese, I will be renewing my commitment to service as a priest in the cathedral at the Chrism Eucharist. This year Bishop Graham Cray is preaching and so I am looking forward to that.

For the last few years this has been a special time as we have all got together, with our bishop, to pray and re-commit to serving God and the church.

This year will be no different …. it will be still be a special time … but this year I find myself frustrated as to what the church has or is becoming.

Tonight I was planning for the MSM session that I will be teaching on next week and this video clip will be used:

It brought tears to my eyes tonight because I really do believe that this is what church should be. I really do believe that this is what I was ordained to be involved in. Sadly …. I also really do believe that the institution means that the meetings, sales, buildings etc etc etc so often take a higher priority than discipleship.

I guess I’m struggling to believe tonight that anything will ever change …. and that’s hard to stomach.

Because … if church is not about making disciples, if it’s not about love and liberation ….. then why church?

But …. tomorrow … I really do want to believe that this can be church …. so I will simply pray …. Lord help my unbelief!

 

ordained to …..

A few people I know have been ordained deacon or priest this last weekend. This time of year always causes me to stop and consider again the promises and commitments I made at my own ordination … and when I do that it can sometimes be quite a scarey experience.

I am also reminded of these words that Richard wrote in a card to me on the day I was ordained. I have returned to them regularly throughout the last four years.

These last few weeks have also brought out some more interesting thoughts on the experience of ordination …. a reflection of 25 years of being a priest by Stephen Cherry and an interesting 17 ten steps starting on June 8th from Steve Tilley who works at Holy Trinity Nailsea where I was youth worker centuries ago! Two interesting articles … go read …

60 years!!!

Today was a pretty special day in the cathedral and one that I don’t think I will ever repeat again. Today we celebrated the 60th anniversary of John Prior’s ordination. I have never heard of anyone celebrating 60 years of ordination before. I can’t believe it is a very common occurrence.

John is an amazingly gracious man who simply loves the cathedral, and loves people more. In my mere 3 years here John has consistently been a great support and encouragement to me. That’s nothing to do with me – he is a great support and encourager of lots of people. I think what is pretty amazing is that John does not really ‘get’ what I am about but …. he is still one of the most supportive characters I know, who is always excited just to hear stories. John loves God and loves people. John is one of those few people who you will find no-one to say a bad work against.

Today I had the privilege of being John’s deacon as he presided and preached to mark this 60th year. A gracious man, a loved man …. and a man who us young ones would do well to look up to as we wonder how to move forward. I clearly did not know John 60 years ago – but today he is a man who still loves what he is called to do. I so pray that I can still have that attitude in just 10 years time, let alone 60!

Thanks John for being gracious to allow me to share such an exciting time in your life.

more on women bishops

Maggi points to some petitions supporting women bishops. You can sign these if you, like me, want to see this happen as soon as possible, and as equal bishops with the other bishops that already hold office – rather than the ridiculous idea thought up by someone who though it acceptable to have women bishops on a different (lesser!!) level than men bishops. A bishop is a bishop, male or female, is equal in the sight of God and as soon as people get to grips with that then the better for us all!

Anyway to sign go click a link below depending on who you are:
you will sign something like: ‘we ….support having women as bishops on the same basis as men are bishops and we urge the Revision Committee to prepare the draft legislation with a code of practice, as requested by General Synod in July 2008, in time for General Synod in February 2010.’

For women clergy sign here

For men clergy sign here

For the laity (male or female!!!) sign here

I guess this is a good place as ny to answer those people who have shown surprise that I have not commented on this offer from the Roman Catholic church. I guess I have not commented because, to be frank, I’m not really that interested. If people wish to leave a church that embraces diversity and welcomes discussion and join one where one person is allowed to make all decisions unchallenged then so be it.

The reason I mention it here is because it is my honest hope that this will enable General Synod to go back to its original decision which agreed women bishops without alternative arrangements. The pope has made this offer to help out those who oppose the move … so I don’t wish to be insensitive but can we please move on now to what the overwhelming majority of Synod voted on after due though, discussion and prayer.

I look forward to our first woman bishop … be great of it was in Rochester!!! Shame it won’t be 😦

my first burial

Today I took my first burial service which has given me a lot to reflect upon.

It may sound strange, but I seem to enjoy’ funerals. Maybe that is not the right word to use, but I had never really realised what a real honour and privilege it would be to share with a family at such a difficult and painful time for them. It seems to me that this is a real time when we can support people and really be of help by giving them an opportunity to remember, say goodbye and lay the person to rest. I think as well it gives us an opportunity to help people realise that it is ok and perfectly natural to grieve fully, which is painful, as well as be able to remind them that death is not the end. The Christian story is one of hope. Death is a real taboo subject, and I think we have a role in bringing the mystery and questions out into the open so that people can deal with them.

Today was a privilege. The family were lovely and although their loss was clearly incredibly painful they were holding onto the love they have for each other and enjoying memories that nothing, not even death, can take away. I shall continue to pray for them as they continue their lives without their loved one.

This role continues to surprise me but I’m not surprised by that!

southwark ordinations

It’s been a great weekend apart from seeing the Gills throw points away.
Sunday it was fantastic to be part of the ordination service and see friends priested in Southwark Cathedral. being asked to lay hands on Nic Nic was a real privilege and a very special moment. It won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

It’s amazing to think how far this group of people have traveled together. There has been a lot of laughter, pain, contemplation, prayer, questions and alcohol involved but most of us now are at the end of the beginning of our journey if you get my drift.

It’s been a good journey and I hope we manage to stay in touch even if early signs show it’s going to be difficult! For now though, congratulations to all my SEITE friends who became priests yesterday; you are all cool!

How did we get here?

It was a real honour to be at St George’s Greenwich last night to join with Jeremy as he presided for the first time at the Eucharist. I’ve traveled the SEITE journey with Jeremy and there have been key moments that the friendship of this guy have kept me on the ‘straight and narrow’. Jeremy has become a good trusted friend and so being there last night was important to me. Not only is he a special bloke, but his family are totally wonderful too.

Jeremy had asked Canon Grahame Shaw to preach on this occasion and he asked the question ‘how have we all got here?’, wanting us to consider, I think, our life journey to this point so far. It is an interesting thing to reflect upon and I think, for me, I also need to consider the thought ‘where have I come from?’.

I am amazed how, by looking back over my journey this far, how little decisions have had major consequences. One little decision of going to Warwick University rather than join the RAF meant I met Sarah, not only my lover and best friend – but a soul mate in many ways. If I had not met Sarah at 18 I am fairly sure that I would have lost my fledgling Christian faith which then was a mere few months old.

Likewise on SEITE if I had not met Jeremy, and a few others that won’t remain nameless (Dave, Jen, Babs, Nic Nic) then I wonder whether I would have completed the course.

So … today as I travel to the final KCME session of the year in Canterbury, while I sit on the train I shall be reflecting upon that question … how did I get here?