“God, our Father, Lord of all the world,
we thank you that through your Son
you have called us into the fellowship of
your universal Church.
Hear our prayer for your faithful people
that each in their vocation and ministry
may be an instrument of your love,
and give your servants now to be ordained
the needful gifts of grace;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Ordn. of priests ASB 1980
29 years ago on the 4th July I was ordained priest and for me because of this the opening sentence from today’s Gospel is very apt:
“The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” Luke 10:1
At the time I was ordained (or as my young nephew, 2 at the time, shouted out; ‘My Uncle Dean is being crowned’) I thought that it was significant that the service took place on the 4th July – American Independence Day! With the emphasis on ‘Independence’! I thought; ‘Now I can go it alone, now I could change the world and more importantly the Church’ and of course I intended to do it all on my own as well. I didn’t need the help of others to do this – how quickly I realised that I was so wrong.
I was not, nor are any of us called or ordained to minister alone. For a start it is not my ministry that I exercise, it is Christ’s in which I share. My ministry only has validity when it is seen in relationship to that of Jesus - ordination is only one aspect of Christ’s ministry and my ordination as priest is only a part of the ministry to which I am called to by virtue of my baptism. Over the past 30 of ministry as deacon and priest years I have come to appreciate that my vocation to ordained ministry can only be seen in conjunction with the baptismal ministries of all my brothers and sisters in the faith. That is why for me Luke’s words:
“..in pairs..” and “..to every town..”
are vital and inspiring.
29/30 years ago I thought that I would quite likely end up as a priest in a rural area running a collection of congregations – never did I think that I’d work in a Cathedral or hold diocesan and provincial posts or serve within a city! In fact on the mission front I can remember saying that I did not really think that mission was my thing, as I did not like cold calling or standing in public proclaiming the Word. God obviously has a sense of humour and over the past years has challenged me to continually review what Mission in the 21st Century is all about.
Mission is vital for the life of the world and the life of the Church for it is through mission that the world can learn of the joy of Christ and the liberation of the Gospel message he proclaims. It is mission, mission that flows from the heart of God, that enflames, informs and inspires our ministry- mission and ministry cannot be separated or seen alone.
There are few of us committed to the ways of Jesus in the 21st Century,
“ The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers few.” Luke 10:2
but there is a whole world, out there, that has yet to hear his voice and who long for it, even if they have yet to realise it. Alone we can never hope to even begin to reap the harvest but together……the possibilities are endless.
The priesthood in which I share is nothing to do with me alone I have been called to ordination on your behalf and on the behalf of all the baptised to go out into the world and do those things that you do not have time to do and to enable you into the ministries that you are called to follow.
For me the most wonderful and exciting thing about being a priest is all of you. You are the cause of my rejoicing when we join together in ministry, for together we have the potential to do many things that alone we could not achieve. Together we can shout the Good News louder than we can on our own and together we can support and encourage each other to always go on and do more.
You encourage me in what I do and for that I thank you, I hope that I may encourage you in all that you do as we collaboratively build the Kingdom of God.