The grace of ordination
I left my hotel in good time so as to have time to walk slowly (and maybe even prayerfully) to the briefing session. On a bench on the square outside a man was sitting. "Priest!" he called. "Priest, priest". I went over to him, not knowing quite what he would say or what he might want. "Are you a holy man?" he asked. On this day, of all days, what a question. "We all try" I said and he wished me good luck and waved me on my way. Some have entertained angels unawares...
In the Conference auditorium, we walked through our movements - stand up, sit down, process this way, process that way, turn around, with humour and good grace knowing it would help us all if we had an idea of what was to happen. After that coffee, pastries (but just water for me - couldn't be trusted not to spill anything down myself!) and ordination cards that had been delivered to Conference for us were waiting. Lined up to go in we waited for the gathered crowd to be briefed and called to worship and we entered as all sang "What a faithful God have I". I very rarely react like this, but I was completely choked and couldn't sing and tears came to my eyes as we moved to take our places in this great assembly of God's people.
Worship together as Conference has been beautifully crafted and brought together many gifts, in prayer and song, in image and word until near the end we reached that part of the service which is both business of the Conference and still profoundly worship. We ascended to the stage to be received into full connexion and as the whole Conference and all the guests rose to their feet, it was done. A few moments later it inspired awe to see Conference rise again for our diaconal brothers and sisters.
Following lunch and near moment of disaster when I realised I'd forgotten my cincture(!) we drove to Chester for the ordination service. Preparation felt hurried and challenging in a quickly filling cathedral and with the music of the band beginning to play and in a flash we were lined up, in order, in the cloister. There are so many amazing moments - glimpsing friends, family, church members, folk from all different times of my life in the congregation, the cries of "They are worthy", the laying on of hands, receiving the stole, the spontaneous outbreak of rapturous applause as we left in procession at the end of the liturgy. Then so many people to greet, to welcome, to see again for the first time in a long time. I was overwhelmed with kindness and good wishes, with cards and gifts, with love and support.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I declare that you have been ordained as Presbyters of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ.
Remember your call.
Declare the Good News.
Celebrate the sacraments.
Serve the needy.
Minister to the sick.
Welcome the stranger.
Seek the lost.
Amen and amen.