New job! New joy!
One of the best days in the life of any minister has got to be the day of their ordination. All the hours of studying, journalling, shadowing, training, sharing (and the rest!) culminate in that exquisite moment. It is a special occasion, for the ordinand and those who are present to witness and celebrate it. In the Church of Scotland, services of ordination and induction are administered by the Presbytery, and members of Presbytery, whether ministers or lay people, are invited and expected to attend. They are in turn joined by the ordinand’s colleagues and friends from other Presbyteries and indeed from other denominations.
I’m not sure how many such services I have attended in the last twenty years or so, but I have never come away feeling disappointed by the experience.
So it was with a sense of anticipation that I arrived at St Paul’s (episcopal) Cathedral, Dundee on 25th August. It was a Saturday afternoon and the city centre was crowded with shoppers. Carrying my cassock, I entered the sanctuary and was surprised to find a sizeable congregation already seated in the pews, even though this was more than half an hour before the service was due to start. Because I was reading the first lesson (as a minister from a neighbouring church – St Andrew’s), I was allocated a place in the quire, which afforded me a marvellous view of the whole proceedings.
When I arrived in the Caird Hall along the street, I found a gathering of clergy in various states of dress/undress (but not indecent, I should add) – no different from any Kirk where the Presbytery is robing for an induction. What was different was the scarcity of black and the prevalence of gold and white. What was no different was the camaraderie. In spite of feeling like Cinders before the ball – no finery – I felt included. Once the Provost was satisfied that we were in the right order, we proceeded to the cathedral, thereby providing a colourful spectacle to the folk outside in City Square.
But it was the service itself which was truly magnificent: the sanctuary packed with people; the sound of the organ; the singing of the choir; the liturgy; the Eucharist.
I will also remember the warm smiles of those who received their Communion wafer from newly consecrated Bishop Andrew. I can’t however explain in words my feelings as the consecration itself was carried out, for it was indescribably moving. One of those moments in which there can be no doubt that the Holy Spirit is indeed present, and all were blessed.
I spared a thought for those outside - shopping, eating, drinking, busking, driving, working – and I prayed that God’s blessing reached beyond the sanctuary walls to touch the hearts of all.
May God bless Andrew in his new role as Bishop of Brechin and, in the Presbytery of Dundee, Roderick, Emma and Jonathan who are soon to be inducted to charges in the city. Perhaps we in Meadowside St Paul’s and St Andrew’s will be the next congregations to celebrate …