Rev'd Karen - February 2023
I’ve recently been away to Blackpool for three days at a Start of Ministry Residential for Curates and First Incumbents. This was a valuable time away as we had various teaching on Leadership, practical matters, which as new incumbents we will face in parish life and time to reflect on our own relationship with God, as we looked at prayer, self-care, and resilience. It was also wonderful to meet up with old clergy friends and colleagues and to get to know new ones. Personally, for me this time of refreshment was also a reminder of my own personal calling by God to ordained ministry. A path that has been long and winding, a journey that has known much joy but is also difficult and, at times, can be very challenging. Time and again, I always come back to the words that we say at our ordination as we make our declarations that in all that we are and do as Priests it is always “By the help of God, I will”. This is a comfort and source of strength, knowing that we cannot do things in our own strength but only in God’s by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Also, appropriately, my daily devotional Encounters with God has been looking at that rather difficult book of the Old Testament, Leviticus. A book that lays out the duties in worship and expectations of what holy living looks like as it gives detailed instructions for priests and the people. Leviticus Chapter 8 are the Lord’s instructions to Moses on the consecration of Priests, in essence their ordination service, how this should be done, the symbols used for cleansing, the special ceremonial garments; the setting aside for this anointed task of purpose and service. Thankfully today we do not use a bull and two rams as a sacrifice for a sin offering and whole burnt offering, respectively!
But it is not just ‘Priests’ or ‘Deacons’ that are called by God to this holy service to God, though yes, that calling is discerned and affirmed. As Christians, as God’s people we are all called by Him to serve. God calls different people to different tasks; He uses our God given talents and gifts and will equip us for what He may be calling us to, in the service of Him and for His church. Moses, for example, was not called as a Priest, but he was a Leader. You, are called by God, for a specific task, role in ministry and the church. It may be practical, or behind the scenes, tending our churchyards, for example, or leading intercessions, serving on the social committee, helping with verger duties, being on the electoral role and being part of the Parochial Church Council (PCC)…there are many, many vital roles which are essential for the church to function in its service and mission.
St Peter puts it like this in his letter to the scattered Christians, “And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests…you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession.” (1 Peter 2:5, 9)
This is a constant reminder that as people, as the church, we are the body of Christ, each one of us has a vital role to play, there are no bystanders, or an audience looking on. As Christ calls us to be his priests, maybe ask yourself what does this mean for you in practice, what may Christ be calling you for or to do, how can you serve Him in your church and community today? Ask him in prayer to reveal the purpose He has for your life and be blessed as you will be a blessing as you step out in faith to serve.