I'm just home from the ordination of priests in Gloucester Cathedral, - one of those splendid occasions that the C of E does really well. Eight deacons made priests, standing and kneeling where we stood and knelt one year ago. As I watched the Bishop anointing their hands, I remembered the huge impact that sacramental act had on me...how, even now, when feeling inadequate I tend to look at my hands, amazed at the power entrusted to me "to reconcile and bless" and draw strength from that.
This year's ordination retreat was conducted by a wonderful woman whom I'm privileged to know a little. I was confident that she would be well worth hearing, but I wasn't prepared for the impact of her presence, looking very small and alone in that heavy pulpit as the organ thundered its post-Gospel celebration. For a moment she seemed an icon of the cost of ministry...then she began to speak, and her words were accessible, reassuring and inspiring...
I wish I had them in front of me now to share, but I can only really reflect their impact on me. She spoke of the cost of our calling to be counter cultural, to remind a world which sees time as money that time is gift. She reminded us that it was all, all about love, and of the need to model that love in our communities (so be seen, be known, unpack your bags, throw them away, settle down for the long haul)....and she spoke of the privilege of priesthood that enables us to unlock the lost road to the secret places of the soul. She ended her sermon with that wonderful Robert Frost poem The Road not Taken with its lovely final stanza
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
and then in a perfect match of themes, the cathedral youth choir began to sing the Stanford anthem "Beati Quorum Via"...Blessed are those who walk in the way of the Lord.
For the new priests and for their parishes, their choice of road will indeed make all the difference.
Unlocking the lost roads...the power of the keys...I came home thinking of the amazing treasure that we are trusted with, the unbelievable responsibility we share, and the grace that makes this possible.
The Doorkeeper - by Bishop John V Taylor
To keep God's door -
I am not fit.
I would not ask fro more
To stand or sit
upon the threshold of God's house
out of the reach of sin,
to open wide His door
to those who come,
to welcome Home
his children and his poor:
to wait and watch
the gladness on the face of those
that are within:
sometimes to catch
a glimpse or trace of those
I love the best, and know
that all I failed to be
and all I failed to do,
has not sufficed
to bar them from the Tree
of Life, the Paradise of God
the Face of Christ.