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Friday, 30 July 2021

Both proud and humbled by the calling of our newly ordained

"Do you believe that God is calling you to this ministry?"

At the ordination of deacons and priests this question is solemnly asked of the ordinands who usually by this time are filled with a mixture of nervousness, joy and anticipation. In the past month and a half I have had the privilege of ordaining deacons and priests in St George's Madrid, All Saints Milan and Her Majesty's Chapel of the Savoy in London. The ordinands all answered the question with a resounding, "I do so believe".

In recent weeks, even as the Church of England has been celebrating ordinations in every diocese, there have been some voices raised which seem to question the need for the ordained. "Key limiting factors" was an expression used to describe them, which caused, rightly, some push-back. Surely these are times when priests and deacons are needed more than ever. 

So I am incredibly proud and humbled by the strong calling of these men and women who are ordained in this time of pandemic. Every ordination is a beautiful and memorable day in the life of the Church but these ordinations are historic, being celebrated in the midst of a global crisis. In my charge to the ordinands I said that some would say that these are difficult days to be taking on Holy Orders: not only is the pandemic still with us, but the world is convulsed with systemic racism and injustice, international order and good governance seems fragile, and the planet is heating up. But the ministry of deacons and priests is all the more vital in such times. These men and women are ordained to be signs of God's love, revealing to the world the values of God's kingdom: justice, compassion, love and peace.

These clergy ordained in the pandemic will carry with them in a very deep way their calling to be instruments of God's healing in a world which needs much rebuilding and reshaping. The Gospel they preach is one of hope which is not dimmed by pandemic or fear. And the heart of their ministry will be the liturgy of the Church, where, in the words of Archbishop Michael Ramsey, they are "to be with God, with the people on [their] heart.” 

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