I went back to school last week. It was in my role as Chaplain to those training for ordained and lay ministry through the South West Ministry Training Course (SWMTC). A week-long Lent School in the lovely city of Salisbury.
It was a privilege. An honour to draw alongside those developing their sense of calling, growing into a new role and way of being (and growing out of some old ones too, perhaps).
In many cathedrals this week, a special service will take place to affirm those whose role and way of being is already in ordained or licensed lay ministry. Often referred to as a Chrism service (the word Chrism relates to the anointing oils used by ministers), those in ministry are reminded of their oneness in Christ (even though earthly divisions still exist…).
I’ve reflected in previous posts on the costs and joys of such ministry. Ministers will please and they will disappoint. They will be subjected to unachievable expectations and experience the most blessed of encounters. They will be supported by many and diminished by a few.
And yet, God’s presence on earth is not just down to a ‘chosen’ people trying to lead a far from perfect church. Thankfully, God is much bigger than that. We are all ministers. A priesthood of all believers, as Peter’s first letter implies (1 Peter 2).
This is not just about furthering the work of the church: it’s about enabling others to experience the love of God. The love of God which is beyond fancy outfits and confusing words.
We are all ones who can draw alongside others. We are all ones who can grow in to new roles and ways of being. We are all ones who can share in the costliness and joys of human encounters. And many do.
The events we remember in this Holy Week and Easter time show us that God doesn’t need us to believe in him in order for him to believe in us.
Whether or not (or indeed whatever) we think about God, God cares about and loves us. That God holds a passionate desire that all of us experience a new way of being.
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