It is 40 years since I was ordained a deacon at Sheffield Cathedral, and I have the privilege of being present for the ordination of 21 new deacons at Chester Cathedral today. These are people who have listened to God, heard his call, and responded with “here, I am”. These words are a commitment to being “present”, to “lifelong, disciplined attentiveness” according to David Runcorn in Fear and Trust.
Runcorn contrasts the failed leaders of 1 and 2 Samuel (there isn’t a success story among them) and offers the examples of Gandalf (Lord of the Rings) and Dumbledore (Harry Potter).
- both bring the gifts of widely lived and well processed experience
- both are significant guides and mentors to younger characters
- both have taken the time and trouble to enter and understand worlds very different from their own
- both are able to function peaceably without being the centre of the action
- both display a combination of gentleness and decisiveness, authority and compassion
- both are reconciled to their dispensability and accept that when the time comes, the world will continue without them.
That sounds good to me as a summary for ordained ministry and as a guide for theological education.