Stones into bread #givingitup 10th March #Lent2014 Matthew 4v1-4

Now, NOT my ordination stole, simply my festal stole! No less significant for all that :-)

Now, NOT my ordination stole, simply my festal stole! No less significant for all that 🙂

If anyone tells you that the Church of England, or the Diocese of Winchester in particular, don’t do change… DON’T believe them!

Today was Deacon’s Day in the Diocese of Winchester, and despite what I’d been led to expect it was a really good day. I got to see friends, existing and yet to be, as we sat together as a cohort of 12 for the first time. Important information was made as fun as possible, and our Bishop didn’t pull any punches in a seriously inspirational talk making quite plain what we were letting ourselves in for as far as being and ordained minister in the Diocese of Winchester is concerned. He was willing to make himself vulnerable to our sometimes searching questions, and very honest when the answer was ‘we haven’t got there yet’ whilst giving us as much of the ‘game plan’ as he probably could. It was obvious, that if we’re not up for ‘living the mission of Jesus’ now is definitely the time to say so, and take a step back. I remember being part of the Vacancy in See consultation a few years back and the whole of my group told the relevant folk that basically we wanted someone who would bring fresh ideas and a fresh way of doing things. We got exactly what we asked for, and now I get to help be part of the change, part of proving that the Church of England “aint’n’t dead yet”!

We also got to meet the lovely Precentor Sue, newly installed last week at Winchester Cathedral. She and the Bishop hadn’t had a chance to meet about this yet, so it was slightly like a game of tag. This was the point where we managed to get the Bishop’s head in his hands, poor man. I almost felt sorry for him as conversations about robes and stoles got very silly in a variety of ways; apparently patent pink DMs aren’t appropriate because pink is not a liturgical colour, and the laces would take too long to sort at the point in the service where the Bishop/s washes our feet!

Then I felt sorry for myself. I really must learn that if I’m going to be organised and efficient and get things done well in advance, I can expect to get my nicely laid plans well and truly shot out the water. Winchester has always (as far as I’m aware) have always ordained in white stoles, and as regular readers will be aware I’ve got my deeply significant ordination stole all finished and tucked away ready. Or at least I thought I had.

After they’d left us to the finer details of tat grants, the Bishop and Precentor had a little conversation, and the Bishop popped back in: were we up for being ordained in red stoles (signifying the Holy Spirit at Pentecost)?! Much excitement ensued from most, and in the end, I and two fellow early pre-planners, sort of gave a lopsided grin recognising that we’d be in danger of inhibiting change that signified the movement of the Holy Spirit if we didn’t go with the idea. It wasn’t like I’m not getting a red stole, and have a particular personal connection with Pentecost, and it IS a red letter day on 29th June (Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul), so… I told the Bishop I’d be ‘fine about it in the morning’ 🙂

So, after that snapshot of having to accept change when you’ve asked for it, Maggi Dawn gets me turning to Matthew 4:1-4 for tonight’s Lent reflection: the devil tempting Jesus, who is fasting in the wilderness, to turn stones into bread.

My immediate thought is that it’s not a rock that needs softening to feed our bodies, but our hearts that need softening to feed our souls, and the souls of others; we mustn’t get ourselves set on there being only one way of doing things!!!

Maggi talks about a period of 40-somethings (days, years, whatever) signifying a concentrated period of preparation and transformation in Bible-speak (as per the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert). How long it was in reality might not involve the number 40, and that isn’t actually a concern – the point of there being concentrated preparation and transformation is much more important. So like ordination training and formation then 😉

Maggi notes that the temptation with food whilst fasting emphasised Jesus was as human as you and I, and in turn emphasises our physical existence. I would add that this in turn emphasises that all that we are called to do can ONLY be done through the power of the Holy Spirit but that we need to know when it is appropriate to invoke God’s power in this way.

And what better time to do that, than at an ordination service! Red stole it is then!!!

PS: Graham’s blog for tonight is here.

PPS: Now very excited that I’ve realised that Canon Missioner to Exeter Cathedral and Diocese, Anna Norman-Walker is conducting our ordination retreat! At least I think that’s what the Bishop said… (note to self, must listen better!)

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About ramtopsrac

Church of England Priest, child of God, daughter of the New Forest, wife and mother.
This entry was posted in curacy, ministry, ordination training, theology - how God fits in and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Stones into bread #givingitup 10th March #Lent2014 Matthew 4v1-4

  1. grahart says:

    Pink might not be liturgical, but rose is… Surely an ordination is a celebration, so… Rose for Gaudete!

  2. Pingback: #givingitup 10th March 2014 | grahart

  3. RosalindR says:

    Rose is also the colour for Mary – so just as justifiable as red stoles (thinks – is this because the bishop has a red chasuble that he likes to wear?)
    How about making a red reversible lining for your white stole?

  4. RosalindR says:

    re vacancy in see- we also asked very clearly for someone who was collaborative in working style…

  5. Alison Bennett says:

    Thanks for this Rachel….makes for a challenging read for those of us who are struggling a little with the ‘game plan’. There was one thing you said that leapt from the page for me….’we mustn’t get ourselves set on their being only one way if doing things’

    • ramtopsrac says:

      I think the red stole suggestion came from the new Precentor and that the Bishop was only the delivery boy as far as the idea was concerned – he didn’t strike me as someone overly concerned with such things. He also says he is being collaborative… and admitted quite openly that communications within and from the Diocese is one of the worst things about the situation at present. We got told quite a bit about timings for when he’s expecting things done by (Deanery MAPs in May completed for launch service in Advent at Cathedral for example; he said it would be challenging for some Deaneries… but must be done), so I’m hoping this sort of info is already available to other clergy – if not, I guess I’m writing another blog post, as he didn’t make it out to be a secret. Perhaps he’s relying on those who do know to do the communicating?

      My white stole is already double sided (wedding related symbolism the other side) and I don’t want to go back and alter it. However, having talked to stole maker today, realised I’d asked for a dove made from my wedding dress on my red stole, so there’ll be a bit of that significance retained.

  6. RosalindR says:

    Ah yes: the tension between saying and living…in fact, my red stole is one of my favourites and I don’t often get to wear it.

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