Before coming away, I was also beginning to reflect on the latest report of the international Methodist-Roman Catholic dialogue which will be presented to the World Methodist Council this summer. It is reflecting on encountering Christ in the Church and Sacraments, with particular reference to baptism, the Eucharist and ordination. The report suggests:
Catholics and Methodists affirm together that: (1) all ministry in the Church is ultimately that of Christ and is only ever exercised by individuals as his representatives; (2) the ordained ministry is both sign and instrument of Christ‟s ministry; (3) a rite of ordination (involving the imposition of ministerial hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit for the appropriate gifts for ministry) is itself sacramental in nature; (4) by virtue of their ordination, individuals are enabled to represent Christ to the Church and to represent the Church before God; (5) the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the faithful participate in distinct but related ways in the priesthood of Christ; (6) in the celebration of the Eucharist, the ordained bishop or presbyter represents Christ the priest in the midst of the priestly people of God; (7) the orderly transmission of the ordained ministry is a sign and instrument of the apostolicity of the Church.
I am encouraged by the report, but as ever the significance of it depends on the responses our traditions make for it. As ordinands we are here to prepare for this ministry and for that I ask your prayers. We pray, as ever, for the deeper unity of all who follow Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, "I leave you peace, my peace I give to you." Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever. Amen.