A lot of people have said things to me such as ‘congratulations’, ‘well done’ and ‘you finally did it!’ While there is a sense of completion and achievement, it somewhat feels like what mountaineers call a ‘false peak’! I’ve just crested what looked like a summit only to find the true peak of the mountain has risen up before me – and it is much taller than the hill I’ve just climbed! In some ways it is the end of a journey; of 2 years discernment, 3 years at theological college and 1 year in Curacy. But in other ways it is a journey that has just begun.
The day itself felt like a day of paradoxes. As my wristwatch squeezed its hour hand closer to 7pm I felt both excitement and the deepest dread. As I sensed the church filling with welcome guests I felt both profoundly supported and alone. Lastly, as I put on my deacon’s stole for the last time I felt that the day was both about me and also not about me.
Being called by God is something that the world we live in (myself included) finds difficult to categorise sometimes. Unlike something like graduation or earning a driving licence, ordination is an acknowledgement of call; not ability. One of the best verses that highlight this for me are from Deuteronomy 7:6-8
6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.Deuteronomy 7:6-8
It was not because of anything inherent to the Israelites that God chose them; it wasn’t their number or their might. In a similar way, the day was not about what I have achieved, it was about what God had chosen to take place. In that respect the day was – and was not – about me. It was also about all of you who God has positioned to form and develop another priest for his Church. In that sense it was a day that belonged to all of you (whether you were physically at the service or not). And as you have blessed me in ways you may not even realise, I hope to likewise be a blessing to you as I take my first steps towards the true summit that now appears before me.