As I approach my ordination to the priesthood I feel ever so slightly unsettled. I suspect – hope – this is a good thing.
It’s nothing to do with becoming a reverend or sporting a dog collar; I do that already. For the vast majority of the ‘secular’ world I am already regarded as a vicar, priest, minister, padre or father, depending on whichever adjectives they are most familiar with. I am, however, aware that many members of the congregations I serve will ‘see’ me differently, for I will no longer need to wear my stole ‘diaconally,’ (or even diagonally), and I will, of course, be able to preside at the Eucharist.
But, it is the sheer awesomeness of what the Church is ordaining me to do which really unsettles me. From next Saturday onwards I will be asked to absolve and bless people and, cconsecrate the elements. In practicing for presiding at the Eucharist recently I had a ‘bit of a moment,’ when, for the first time, I uttered the words ‘absolve you of your sins.’ Blessing people will, I am sure, feel just as strange. Consecrating bread and wine, making ‘ordinary things,’ holy is just about as awe-inspiring as it gets. I hope I will be able to exercise priestly ministry with the humility it demands.
I hope I can get to get grips with the ABC of priestly ministry. I hope that I can both be, and encourage others to be, living sacraments for, I suspect that living a truly sacramental life, animated through the ministerial priesthood, should characterise the priesthood of all believers.
Can you imagine a world in which people felt absolved, blessed and where the ordinary things of life were made sacred; if you can you might just be getting a glimpse of what the kingdom of God looks like, here on earth.