Misconceptions #givingitup Genesis 22:1-18 16th March #Lent2014

Apparently it is exactly 15 weeks until my ordination as Deacon, according to one of my cohort who dropped that little nugget into a Facebook post today. 

How does that make me feel? 

Frightened. Interestingly the fear is not for what comes after ordination, though there is a nervous anxiety mixed with the excitement for my new ministry in a new place, but instead fear of what needs to be accomplished in the next 15 weeks. 

I have spent most of this afternoon working through a detailed commentary on Genesis 1:1-2:3 – the creation story (according to P, the priestly contributor to the Pentateuch saga). It was particularly interesting to note that even the most brilliant of Old Testament scholars can’t always resist the temptation to overlay their own theological views onto something they’re trying to be objective about. 

In her lengthy reflection on the story of Abraham’s thankfully aborted attempt to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, Maggi Dawn poses the question of whether our view of God is skewed by our pride and other misconceptions, or whether we are suitably aware of his abundant grace in our lives?

Today, mired in Old Testament theology, it feels like it will only be grace that will get me through this next 15 weeks to the altar. That feels like a far greater sacrifice is needed on my part in this next slog through two portfolios, than the weeks and years of ordained ministry that will follow, though I suspect this is far from true.

I need to look day by day to be obedient to the sacrifice that needs to be made, the level of sacrifice that I’ve probably not exhibited so much or so willingly in ordination training as I did in Reader training,  so that I can hear God’s voice and experience his grace, directing me to more fruitful times ahead.

I still haven’t completely fathomed why I’ve been less willing to give up time and effort to climb the mountain this time round, though I think it started out with an expectation by myself and others that I carried a certain amount of useful past experience with me that would stand me in good stead. True though that might have been of ministry when I get there (and I’m not sure now), I think it has actually hindered the training process. But it’s really time to shoulder the burden good and proper now, before it’s too late.

Sorry, bit of a low post, of little use to others, but that’s sort of where I’m at tonight. 



  1. Hello Rachel
    Sorry it’s taken so long to comment this time – though as I expect you know there is no comment I can make that you don’t know. Part of the time of training is a time of transition, that we often don’t realise is going on until we are at the other end of it. so it may feel as though nothing is “happening” but it’s the unseens that are going on that are the valuable bits. If it’s confirming that you are someone who is happier “doing” that is also OK- you know that your calling is more about living the theology than reading it…and most of us are like that anyway. the trouble is that those who staff theological colleges are the sort of people who thrive on the study! You’ll use what you have been studying I’m sure…but perhaps in unexpected ways. and you will get there too…it’s a bit last trimester of pregnancy like….
    And good enough is good enough; and grace is good, because it’s the only reason any of us are in this place. By perfectionist standards none of us are there yet! it really isn’t all about sacrificing enough to deserve the end…..it’s also about the bits of the journey that are good and life-giving (like friendships?) Are yo still going to Cuddesdon every week to touch base?



  2. A further thought – it does seem that you have missed out on formal ministry of any kind, so less easy to integrate “doing” and “thinking”. Not allowed to have an authorized ministry in the place where you are, but (is this because you are part time?) no regular link with a parish as part of training. which does feel like the worst of both worlds….. I compare that with my pt training where there was an expectation that although we had to limit how much hands on ministry we did in our “home” or parish where we were based, we should be doing a minimum of preaching, assisting at communion, leading worship etc. This was part of the formation – there was giving up but also space to do some growing into, though not time or energy to develop much. And the college did check up that this was happening in a creative way. So if there is no space for ministry – it will feel as though something is missing because it is – but there will be plenty and in abundance very soon!!


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