Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Surprised By Joy


"Are you nervous?" 
"No"
"You must be very excited!"
"Not really. There is so much going on that it feels like I am just fitting it on Saturday afternoon…"

We arrive in the cathedral as the scratch choir are taking their places for rehearsal - they are the Church of England equivalent to a flash mob, except for the surprise element... Glorious harmonies fill the air, soaring ever upwards into the sacred space, and a tiny part of me hopes that they will spontaneously break into "I will follow him" at the end of the service, complete with all the dance moves…

Coffee and a catch up with some of last years 'graduates'.  It was very encouraging to hear that there is life after training!  Two fantastic years are drawing to a close,  during which I have learnt so much and as a group we have gelled, and grown to appreciate each others strengths and idiosyncrasies.  However, the prospect of life beyond assignments and homework is very appealing….

John Green appears, bearing details of his latest mishap - I am so glad he was chosen to come to lead our quiet day and speak at our licensing.  He is a wonderfully humble man, who has suffered much, but his faith shines out through the cracks where life has cut and bruised him.  A man who has faced and overcome many challenges, and still serves his Lord.

Too soon it was time to don our robes - will we ever see each other dressed in such radiant whiteness again?  We make our way to the John Chapel where, in the presence of Bishops, and other members of the clergy hierarchy, we take our oaths, before joining the throng of Readers, who have come to for their Renewal of Commitment. We line up ready to process and stand before the great and the good.

The organ heralds the opening hymn, the voices of the faithful gathered, respond.  Forward we go.  Faces familiar and unfamiliar pass by as we lead a procession worthy in magnitude of the Court of King Caractacus.  Glorious sunshine streams through leaded windows, and nothing matters, as we walk down the aisle to take our allotted places.

We stand, we listen, we kneel, we speak, we sing, we pray, we smile, we turn, we sit, we receive.  Peace, joy and hope floods through me.  The service plan so carefully crafted has life breathed into it by the Holy Spirit, and the theoretical is transformed into the actual and the spiritual.

Soon we are parading out for our images to be captured in the Cloisters, before rejoining our supporters in the Chapter House.  

What has changed, apart from acquiring a set of long robes, a Bible from the Bishop and a certificate?  
Am I suddenly transformed into a spiritual superhero?
Will sermons suddenly flow from my finger tips, neatly with three points, a beginning AND a recognisable conclusion, instead of the current tangled jumble of half-formed thoughts that require teasing out by prayer, and putting into context by background reading?
Will I be able to heal the lame, convert the apathetic, pray without changing tense, avoid putting my foot in it AND use apostrophes correctly?

Who knows :)  All I  know is that I am a work in progress, authorised by the Bishop to serve my church.  God has chosen me, despite my flaws, and he is trusting me to allow myself to let His light shine out in my life, through my vulnerability and imperfections to His glory, not mine.  

(Photo by Sam Setchell, Communications Officer for the Diocese of Worcester)