Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ordination Weekend

Church of England ordinations are quite an occasion. A two hour service, often in a cathedral, when nervous candidates wait for the moment when the Bishop puts his hands and their head and they become a 'Rev'. I still remember the drive from [sadly closed] Morley retreat house to Southwell Minster on 1 July 1990, with a slight discomfort at the newly acquired piece of white plastic in my shirt collar. So it was good to be there on Saturday to share in that transitional moment for 8 candidates in Blackburn on Saturday.

Ordinations are a particular genre of Church of England - lots of cathedral pomp (more in some than others!). Blackburn Cathedral has at least a three second reverb in the building (I counted) which either makes preachers acquire a parsonical voice and pace to their delivery, or means their words get lost in the mush of the echo.

For Cathedral ordinations, there is always lots of beautifully sung choral music. The snag is that it's wasted on me, although I know when it's done well (and when it isn't). Blackburn was no exception, and the choir were in excellent voice. However, I do find choral settings of communion services frustrating. The choir sing the 'congregational' sections to you, when they are the parts of the service where the congregation normally get to join in. I always feel a bit cheated at that point, although those who enjoy listening to [insert composer]'s mass in B minor presumably are glad to be soaking it in.

For me the most important part was seeing people setting off on a new chapter of their lives and ministry within the Church. Whatever your theology of what ordination does or doesn't do to you, life is never the same again, and for all of us it's a journey into the unknown to some extent. The Church of England will be going through some interesting times in the next few years, so my prayers go with those who continue to offer themselves for ministry.

No comments: