So they’ve gone. No longer am I a ‘Reader (to be) in Writing’… but instead a ‘Reader in Writing’, authorised, admitted and licensed. One set of brackets have gone, but the others, though slightly re-worded, will remain until the last set of assignments is marked and returned! In a sense they should remain for ever.
Saturday was special – and if you were there then you were part of what made it special. But there were many people who were not able to be there who have also been part of it, and to them my particular thanks for helping me on the journey. I am now officially a Licensed Lay Minister (or Reader) in the Church of England.
My main personal reflection in the 24 hours since life returned to ‘normal’ is the sense of starting the rest of my life. For the last four years, since selection, Saturday has been a goal, something future. And now, it is something past. Now, ‘ministry’ is not something I hope to do, but something that I am, or part of who I am becoming, at least.
Taking the time to think about the readings at the service (which I admit I’ve had to look up) I continue to fail to see my self as wise (James 3:13-18) even though my certificate of admission suggests someone has told the bishop I am of
“godly life and conversation, training and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and of the Christian Doctrine.”
More of a work, just beginning to progress?! My thoughts are far too simple and devoid of technical stuff and links to other people’s ideas for me to really stand up to scrutiny on that score. However, I hope and pray that whatever ministry unfolds through me, it may be peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial and fruitful (James 3:17).
And that’s the exciting bit… starting out, again. There is a lot to explore, and a huge to-do list of areas of ministry that I want or need to get my hands dirty in. Now there isn’t really a road map of what comes next (like there has been with the modules of Reader Training), but there is more of a sense of revelation to come – revelation of who God is and how he can work through me, if I remember to let him.
There is something compulsive about following Jesus. I can’t help it – I have to go where he leads me. He has always been part of my life, even if I have never known just how tough the journey was going to be in places. And Matthew 4:18-25 reminds me of this – the calling of Simon, Andrew, James and John from their nets – because the disciples didn’t know what would happen to them, through them, or because of them, they just felt compelled to follow this Jesus man (as I think the sermon reminded us).
There have been many things in my life that felt ‘right’ at the point when I have done them… going to Aberystwyth felt right from the first Sunday in St. Mike’s; becoming engaged was ‘right’ long before G purchased the ring (and marriage simply formalised it); coming to Yateley was a definitely part of God’s plan for us from the day and the circumstances in which we sold the house in Bracknell. And now this – becoming a Licensed Lay Minister is ‘right’ in God’s eyes. As Bishop Michael grasped my hand (incredibly firmly) to admit me as a Reader, proclaiming the Godhead in Trinity, I knew it was the right thing – God’s will for the rest of my life is that I am a ‘minister’ among his people and to extend his Kingdom.
As Jesus travelled through Galilee he was enabling people to gain a personal relationship with him, through his preaching and teaching (Matt 4:23). At Pentecost he enabled his followers to do the same (Acts 1:8). These things don’t come naturally to me, and I’ve always found sharing my faith with non-Christians difficult, but as I prepare for another pre-baptism visit this evening, and as I contemplate ‘the rest of my life’, my prayer is that through God’s Holy Spirit, and as he has promised, he will enable me clearly show others how Jesus can be our friend, hope, saviour, guide and comfort. Amen.