How do I feel?
Humbled: why was I chosen to this ministry? I am sure that I have some gifts and skills that will further the proclamation of the gospel in these communities. But why me? God knows or at least I hope He does! Can I carry out the task that I am being appointed to? Do I have the requeite gifts and skills? Can I manage change and handle conflict? Can I discern when to listen to past hurts and dashed hopes and when to challenge people to look to God's future?
Daunted: I have responsability for three centres of worship and three very distinct communities. I knew what I was doing in my previous parish. I knew how things ran. I knew people and they knew me and we worked well together to the glory of God. I know very few people here and I feel uncertain as we launch out into this friendlessness and unknown.
Hopeful: I feel hopeful as God opens a new chapter in the story He is writing in this parish and these communities. I am looking forward to seeing God transform the hearts and lives of people here and I believe that He will. I am looking forward to seeing people come to faith and have their faith renewed. I am looking forward to walking alongside the people of these communities celebrating their joys and consoling their tragedies - baptising the babies, marrying the loving couples and commending to God the dead.
Committed: I am committed to the ministry that the Bishop will call me to share in tomorrow night. I am aware that it wont all be easy. I am aware that there will be change ahead. I am aware that all that God is calling us to will take time.
As I prepare tonight, I have looked through the service that we will be using tomorrow night and a couple of passages in the liturgy ring loud and clear tonight.
In the middle of the service the Bishop will say,
'...The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In the declaration you are about to make, will you affirm your loyalty to this inheritance of faith as your inspiration and guidance under God in bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him known to those in your care?...'
Yes, this is the church of which I am a part of and one that I love, the one for whom Christ died. One phrase catches my eye each time I read though: the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh.
This church, as broken and divied as she may be, it is she that is called to proclaim afresh the Christian faith in each generation. This is our task - as members of the Church, God's church, in this parish in these communities. It's not down to me. We are the church. It is down to God and us.
Towards the end of the service I will pray,
Father, take our hands and work through them;
take our minds and think through them;
take our lips and speak through them;
take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you and your people;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is such a wonderful prayer and one that sums up mission and ministry as far as I am concerned. I may be feeling humbled, daunted, hopeful and committed, but however I am feeling, the ministry to which I am called to is one that I am called to share in - it's God's ministry, a ministry in which the bishop, me and indeed every member of the churches and parish in which I will minister are called to share.
Proclaiming afresh '...good news for men in all the earth...'