We are well and truly in the midst of Petertide, the traditional time for ordinations. There are two periods in the year when ordinations take place – around the feast of St Peter and Paul (Petertide) and at Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael and All Angels in September.
This Sunday I will be at Manchester Cathedral at the ordination to the diaconate of a parishioner from my old parish in Saddleworth, it’s been a joy to see him grow over the years and come to this point in his faith journey. Please pray for him, he is Dr Ian Brocklehurst. For a day job he puts people to sleep at the local hospital – as I’ve told him, now he’s got two opportunities! Honestly he’s an excellent preacher. Incidentally, this Sunday will be my 30th Anniversary as a deacon and I will be at the very cathedral where I was ordained. So it’s going to be a very special day for both of us.
Of course on the following Saturday at St Paul’s our very own Andy will be ordained a deacon by Bishop Richard and begin his ministerial life at Holy Innocents, just down the road. Please pray for Andy, Michelle, Tom and Kate. Ordination is an enormous privilege and properly understood it is a wonderful burden as well. To accompany people on their life’s journey in good times and bad, to meet people at their happiest and saddest, when the veneer of pretence is stripped away and we are naked before each other and God, that is a huge privilege and deeply humbling.
May God bless Ian and Andy as they begin this new chapter in their lives and may God support and bless all of us who are ordained. That we may remember the great trust that has been given to us, ministering to Christ’s flock for whom he laid down his life.
A parishioner in one of my old parishes had the rather distinctive and unnerving manner of sometimes saying during his intercessions “And we come now to the names of those who have passed away. Please offer special prayers because any of us could be on this list next week” Although unorthodox, his style of praying certainly jolted his hearers and reminded us of our fragility and our mortality. In the last few days there has been much to jolt us, well at least me, indeed. The terrible shooting of black Christians in their church in Charleston, South Carolina. The six young Irish students who fell to their deaths when a balcony collapsed during a party in Berkeley; one minute they were relaxing with friends – the next they were dead. The twenty six year old female cyclist run over at the height of rush hour yesterday by Bank Station; the eight cyclist killed on our capital’s roads this year. And I learnt sadly yesterday that the beautiful five year old daughter of family friends has been admitted to Great Ormond Street with a serious condition.
The Gospel reading you may recall last Sunday was how Jesus calmed the storm that was threating to swamp the boat that the disciples were on. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t vanish in a puff of smoke or summon angels to carry him away to safety when the terrible storm blew up but was alongside his disciples in their panic, their pain, their despair. He was literally in the same boat as them. In our own storms of life, our pain, our blackness, our utter utter despair sometimes, I take comfort that the presence of God is not too far away. We are not alone. We are never abandoned by God. And the other thing that I have been reflecting on this week is that we never tell those nearest and dearest to us what they mean to us and how much we love them. If we are able to, we must say “I love you” more often.
With every blessing,