Revd Ian Luke-Macauley, St Barnabas, Clapham Common
I took this picture of Christ the Worker (by John Hayward) in the Chapel of Wychcroft Resource and Retreat Centre, where we were blessed to hold our pre-ordination retreat last year.
Returning to Wychcroft House a year later (this time attending a retreat prior to my ordination as a Priest) I was keen to revisit this mural in the chapel which was much the same but as I reflected on it, I was deeply aware that the viewer had been changed…’like clay in the hand of the potter…’ (Jeremiah 18:6)
I have both nursed and been energized by initially a vague desire to serve God and from the age of 12yrs, this has found expression in serving as a chorister and a very committed one, sometimes attending three services on Sundays.
As one of two leading treble singers, I always stood next to the Vicar, so I guess it is not surprising that something about the aroma of priesthood went deeply up my nostril and found a niche in my heart.
This sense of being available and responding to God’s call to serve as a priest, is beautifully captured by Archbishop Cottrell:
“God wishes to enact his will through the ordinary men and women God calls. They become the means whereby God forgives, restores, heals, feeds and blesses his people so that they too may be his transforming presence in the world, also blessing and providing.” (Cottrell S, On Priesthood Servants, Shepherds, Messengers, Sentinels and Stewards, Hodder & Stoughton, 2020, P.66)
I am grateful that God did not give up his relentless pursuit of my candidacy for ordination which has meandered through a long and scenic route. In maternity terms, the pregnancy started in 1982, in Freetown, Sierra Leone but the delivery took place in London at Southwark Cathedral on 19th September 2020.
Being a “transforming presence” is a daunting privilege which I think requires the clay to continue to be submissive to the potter and thus the life of transformation and growth continues but with an absolute reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Do I expect to be different? Well, I don’t think this is exactly like the former TV show ‘Stars in their eyes’ in which contestants disappear through a cloud of smoke and emerge, totally transformed like the star they represent.
True though, I disappeared for our pre-ordination retreat after which I emerged at All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, on Saturday 3rd July, where I was ordained as priest. I also believe that I am being transformed into Christ so in that sense, I think I am a different person and responding to God’s call to priesthood is like Isaiah saying, “…Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). I pray that we all find joy in responding to God’s call for our individual lives and to serve Him faithfully wherever He sends us or whatever He appoints us to do.
I doubt there can be any better joy and deeper satisfaction.
Revd David Atkinson, Pioneer Curate, Springfield Wallington
This year has been a strange year to be Ordained! – it has been a real privilege to be a Deacon in what has been a time full of many challenges, as well as an opportunity to see God at work in new ways.
I have rediscovered that the primary way that I reflect about something is through the process of songwriting and so I would like to share these two songs below in order to give you an insight into my experience of the past year.
‘It’s ok to have questions’
This first piece is a meditation on Psalm 22, and seeks to give voice to some of the questions that I repeatedly came across this past year as we faced with so much pain, upheaval and uncertainty in varying ways. My experience has been that at the core of these questions is an underlying desperation to know whether God is still with us and is still for us. I love how the Psalms give us permission to ask these questions even though expressing them is a vulnerable thing. I have found great encouragement from the Psalmists who, again and again, show us that taking these ‘subjunctive’ (wondering) questions to God actual offer us the invitation not to avoid our pain, but to walk through it and find that Christ is to be found in the centre of suffering.
Who are we living for?
To be a Deacon is ultimately to be a servant and so in this last year I have been reflecting on what it means to serve and lead in a way that reveals that my ultimate Master is Christ – with the kind of leadership he modelled clearly being that of servant leadership, as John 13’s washing of the disciples’ feet so beautifully describes. In this year it could have been easy to become overwhelmed, and yet knowing that above all it is Christ doing the ‘critiquing’ and ‘praising’ has been a great gift in this time. As Colossians 3:23-24 puts it: ‘Work from the heart for your real Master… Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.’ So this second piece is a call to seek an eternal perspective amidst so many pressing concerns and reflects on these themes using adapted words of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted’.