jump to navigation

Recognition: a re-appraisal 27 June 2013

Posted by Dr Moose in Chaplaincy, Church, Faith, Life, Theology, University.
Tags: , ,

The approach of Petertide, and the ordinations that go with it, coupled with my ‘bonus’ role of Young Vocations Champion, provide a fitting time for a little vocational reflection.

Some 16 or more years ago I remember attending some sort of vocations day, where we were asked something like “why do you feel you should be ordained?” It was probably slightly less direct than that, but definitely something about discerning our drives and motivations. I am sure we were told there were no right or wrong answers (I can’t remember that, I just know the way that the church operates!) I’m not too sure that I’d formulated a clear response, but then, as now, I tend to work things through in speaking or writing, like this blog. I strongly suspect that my answer was one of the “less right”. I felt that ordination would be something to do with a public recognition of my faith and value, something validating my role & place in God’s church: a means of establishing that I was safe, qualified & trustworthy without all the tedious rigmarole of havng to estabish myself in a new church! It clearly showed my lack of awareness about how the Church of England works (something some might argue hasn’t actually changed about me!) In many ways that response was utter tosh: the normal tasks of a priest are very distinct from much of those of the congregation. No matter how much you may promote lay empowerment or wish to think of yourself as ‘first among equals’, in reality you are the boss. You are expected to lead, perform the tasks that no-one else can or will do, and of course you have the time to do them, with suitable financial support, in a way very few others would be capable of. Another key element in my poorly-formed understanding was the amount of time parish clergy spend serving the majority who do not attend the church except when they want something, rather than the faithful ones, but that’s a different issue!

And so the concept of recognition was slowly allowed to slip into the background. I’m not sure that it ever really went away though, in the same way that many of my priorities have not changed and have continued to be somewhat at variance with the expectations and needs of so much of the church at ground level (such as the inevitable fundraising, the tired & stereotypical social activities, the desire to apparently live in the past and the need to bring people to church rather than to faith).

All of this is highly ironic, of course, now that I am university chaplain. I am permitted to outwork my ministry in a manner I feel best fits the challenge (most of the time). I am freed from the straightjacket of  “we have always done it this way”, loosened from the bonds of church fetes, and delivered from the concerns of getting bums on pews, instead being free to draw people’s attention to the divine and so gently encourage them to look further, and hopefully to seek Jesus. While I do not, strictly speaking, need to be ordained to do this, my priestly & diaconal orders are important credentials, giving me exactly the recognition helpful to pursue my calling, for this is at the heart of my calling, even if it is very uch on the edge of the church’s general self-conception.

The wheel has turned full-circle, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Soli deo gloria.



1. Taking Stock – Part 1: The first steps on the road towards ordination | The Pilgrim Explorer - 28 June 2013

[…] Recognition: a re-appraisal (drmoose.wordpress.com) […]

2. I’m still here! | The Pilgrim Explorer - 24 July 2013

[…] Recognition: a re-appraisal (drmoose.wordpress.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: