This week I have been following Lucy's reflections as she prepares for her ordination on Saturday. With maturity and thoughtfulness she has explored what the promises mean for her at this time. I have enjoyed reading her thoughts and been challenged to reflect on my own ordination promises, those made at my induction (and which will be made at the next one in October) and of the realities of ministry.
This much I think - have I kept the promises I made? Well, yes and no. I have tried, and with God's help, to an extent succeeded, but have not always been able to fulfil them, at least to my satisfaction. Partly because real life gets in the way! And yet, maybe, mysteriously, it is in the failing that we succeed? This week is maybe a case in point, not a typical week, because actually there are no typical weeks, but a week in which I have struggled to find the time to those things I feel I should do because I've done the things I had to do... and yet in these have found fulfilment and blessing and in some way have done what I'm meant to do.
Among my strengths/weaknesses is what I might euphemistically term a protestant spirituality (or I'm a bit of a workaholic, in plain English) which means winding down at the end of this pastorate is just not happening. Yesterday I spent most of the day taking someone to hospital, then fitted in a funeral visit for today's service and wrote the service. This morning I have been preparing Sunday's 'songs of praise' service and doing some admin before I head to the crematorium. Tomorrow is kind of a treat though, a train ride to London to do a wedding preparation visit. Of these, only the London trip was in my diary, and the week was meant to be spent doing some studying and reflecting as I prepare to move on. And yet, all the busyness is what, for me, ministry here has been about, is the reality of me doing my best to keep my promises.
Moving on gives me the chance to re-evaluate what those promises mean for a new season. And maybe that's the point - at one level keeping those promises is impossible but at another it is in the struggles and pressure of real life ministry that they are kept. I wish I didn't fall asleep saying my prayers, I wish I felt more overtly spiritual... but God, knowing who and what I am called me and equipped me for real ministry knowing how those promises would, with the help of the Spirit, be worked out.
I pray God's blessing on Lucy and others starting to live out their ordination promises and on those who have spent a life time trying so to do.