And who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:30)
It still amazes me how this great City of London manages to operate, how, despite, the traffic, the hustle and bustle of daily life, some very compact living and working conditions, we manage to go about our daily lives. I think it has something to do with our ability to recognise the other. Those small daily ‘thank-you’s’ which acknowledge our neighbour; be it in the car, or on the pavement, the helping hand, or the ‘Good Morning’. However much we want to live and operate as individuals, cities like London remind us that to do so successfully we need to aware of those around us. Of course there are tensions and tragedies and daily rudeness, but on the whole I think we manage very well.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is not just an ancient story of a good deed, it is the clearest possible indication of the heart and mind of God. How occasionally a helping hand is much more important than the rule book. How the dignity of human life and the relief of suffering trumps human sensibility. This parable is a radical act and is deeply challenging of established religious and secular norms. It puts people first and rules second, because made in the image of God we have value, dignity and worth.
It’s round about now that people who are being made deacon or ordained priest at Petertide start sending out Ember or ordination cards to their family and friends. They are called Ember cards because certain days of the liturgical year are called “Ember Days” and these are days traditionally given over to praying and fasting for those exploring vocations, preparing for ordination and in fact praying for those already ordained and working as deacons, priests and bishops. Prayers are asked for the ordinand and the parish where she or he will be based and prayers are asked for the incumbent. The transition from laity to clergy is a mighty one. I felt a great weight literally and metaphorically when Bishop Richard laid hands on me and through the sacrament of ordination made me a deacon; I had entered St Pauls Cathedral as a member of the laity a “Mr” and I was leaving as a clerk in holy orders and a “Rev’d”.
The first few weeks of new ministry can be tough as the new curate gets used to the parish and they, in turn get used to him or her. If you are fortunate to have a good training incumbent – as I have had – then you are off to a good start. As we prepare to say goodbye to Andy Rooney as he prepares for a new chapter of life in the ordained ministry, we give thanks for all he has offered and shared with us here and pray for his new parish of Holy Innocents, Paddenswick Road, Hammersmith and his training incumbent Father David Matthews.
Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts,
by your Holy Spirit you have appointed
various orders of ministry in the Church:
look with mercy on your servants
now called to be deacons and priests;
maintain them in truth and renew them in holiness,
that by word and good example they may faithfully serve you
to the glory of your name and the beneﬁt of your Church;
through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
With every blessing,