Chester Cathedral was the setting for a remarkable ordination service yesterday. All ordination services are remarkable.
The service begins with a reminder that God “calls his people to follow Christ, and forms us into a royal priesthood … to declare the wonderful deeds of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” That “royal priesthood” is the church. “To serve this royal priesthood, God has given particular ministries. Priests are ordained to lead God’s people in the offering of praise and the proclamation of the gospel. They share with the Bishop in the oversight of the church, delighting in its beauty and rejoicing in its well-being.”
The prayer of the people is that “in their vocation and ministry each may be an instrument of your love” and then particularly “the needful gifts of grace” should be given to those being ordained.
Their responsibilities are spelt out.
- Priests are called “to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent.”
- “With their Bishop and fellow ministers, they are to proclaim the word of the Lord and to watch for the signs of God’s new creation.”
- They are to be “messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord”.
- “They are to teach and admonish, to feed and provide for his family, to search for his children in the wilderness of this world’s temptations, and to guide them through its confusions.”
- They are to call people to repentance and declare “in Christ’s name the absolution and forgiveness of their sins”
- “With all God’s people, they are to tell the story of Gods love.”
- “They are to baptise new disciples”
- “They are to unfold the scriptures, to preach the word in season and out of season …”
- “They are to preside at the Lord’s table and lead his people in worship …”
- “They are to bless the people in God’s name”
- “They are to resist evil, support the weak, defend the poor, and intercede for all in need.””
- “They are to minister to the sick and prepare the dying for their death.”
- “Guided by the Spirit, they are to discern and foster the gifts of all God’s people, that the whole Church may be built up in unity and faith.”
A tall order.
But they and the church have every confidence that they are able to do it. There is a “Will you?”, and a response “By the help of God, I will.” There is a clear understanding that “they cannot bear the weight of this calling in their own strength, but only by the grace and power of God.” And there is a commitment made by the church to continually pray for them, and to “uphold and encourage them in their ministry”. The church praises God for giving “his gifts abundantly, to equip your holy people for the gift of ministry” and prays “Renew them in holiness and given them wisdom and discipline … In union with their fellow servants in Christ, may they reconcile what is divided, heal what is wounded and restore what is lost.”
This follows a previous post for those being ordained.
Simon Marsh has also blogged about the ordination.
The photo is of the Creation Window in the Cathedral Refectory. The photo is by JuliaL49. The window was created by artist Ros Grimshaw. Its story is told here.