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Hi Dad, I’m home!

August 20, 2016

Having a curate around has taken my mind back to when I started out as a minister. I remember my ordination in particular. York Minster was packed with people; happy smiling people. There were lots of people, family, friends, strangers, priests, bishops and even an archbishop. All were there to wish me and my fellow ordinands well. They were there to pray and ask God’s blessing as we were being dedicated to serve God in a new way.

That description makes it sound a bit like a party but that’s not how it felt. To be honest I was terrified. I was terrified to be the focus of so much attention. But most of all I was terrified that I would not be up to what lay ahead. What if the Church had got it wrong? What if I was mistaken? What if God wasn’t calling me to this? Then I remembered the rehearsal. I had to walk up and down steps in my new cassock, I’d caught my toe in my cassock, tripped and nearly went over. Should I run now? – no, I’d only fall flat on my face!

In the end all went well. I got lots of hugs from friends and family. In short it was a beautiful and memorable day. I even managed not to trip on my new cassock. I remember all of that lovely day, I smile; but only after experiencing a bone deep tingling of terror. Rightly so, I love what God is leading me to be and do, but I am still in awe of the God who trusts an idiot like me to do it!

That thought then takes me to the Bible, to the letter to the Hebrews 12.18-24:

You have not come to a place like Mount Sinai that can be seen and touched. There is no flaming fire or dark cloud or storm or trumpet sound. The people of Israel heard a voice speak. But they begged it to stop, because they could not obey its commands. They were even told to kill any animal that touched the mountain. The sight was so frightening that Moses said he shook with fear.

 You have now come to Mount Zion and to the heavenly Jerusalem. This is the city of the living God, where thousands and thousands of angels have come to celebrate. Here you will find all of God’s dearest children, whose names are written in heaven. And you will find God himself, who judges everyone. Here also are the spirits of those good people who have been made perfect. And Jesus is here! (Contemporary English Version)

This description of being a Christian sounds a lot like my ordination, but instead of a Minster there is the City of God, with thousands and thousands of celebrating angels, all my family (all of God’s dearest children). And there instead of a mere archbishop is God himself… and look Jesus is here!

I don’t know about you but my first reaction to this description is very like my reaction to my ordination: Terror. The terror may be different from that of Moses and the ancient people of God, but it’s no less powerful. But then I am to live with this reality. All Christians are to live with this reality. I am to live, day by day, knowing that I have constant access to that Holy Place. Indeed, it is my home, my true Home.

Over the years I have entered that Holy Place countless times: In prayer, in worship, sometimes in despair, sometimes just smiling at the wonder of God in people and creation. Most of the time the terror is gone. I walk in like I do at my earthly home: I walk in hang up my coat, shout, “I’m home”, and drop into an armchair. That is why I need the words that follow, especially Hebrews 12. 28-29:

In this kingdom we please God by worshiping him and by showing him great honour and respect. Our God is like a destructive fire!

I need to remember that terror that I felt before my ordination, to remind me of the greatness of the gift that I have been given. I am a child of the God who is like a destructive or consuming fire. My heavenly Dad is a consuming fire who burns away all the spiritual dirt that clings to me. This God I am called, day by day, to love, worship but also honour and respect. Then I smile again as the love drives out the fear.

I’m smiling again now; praying off my coat and shoes, flopping into an armchair and shouting, “Hi Dad, I’m home!”

 

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2 Comments
  1. And the cassock has lasted well too.

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