I was ordained priest on Saturday and presided at the Eucharist for the first time on Sunday. I put together a lot of the service although it is based on the framework we use at this time of year but I have been reflecting on the roots of my choices and wondering whether there are things I may want to think about a bit more regarding formation.
The service booklet has one of my favourite pictures on it – the Jesus window in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at Buckfast Abbey – you can just make out the communion table in front of it. As it is a Roman Catholic Chapel I will never be able to preside there but it is one of my favourite sacred spaces and I often picture the Jesus of the window as I pray. The service it self had the title Love God, love your neighbour and love yourself – fundamentally virtually every time I preach I hope I communicate an element of this message – they really are the greatest commandments for me. Three different people spoke taking one of the themes each – I love the idea of multivoiced church and know how different personalities and styles resonate with different people and they contrasted well but were all deeply profound. Paul did love yourself – I have learnt so much about that from him.
The hymns were a mixture of fitting the theme and significant to me. The first was Here is love, vast as the ocean… I first sang this song at the funeral of a wonderful young man of God tragically killed in a car accident on the way home from a Christian camp – Chris Morgan. The other very significant song was I the Lord of sea and sky. I first sang this as I was licensed as a Reader in 1996, again in Birmingham Cathedral. My Grandma was there, a faithful Christian who I imagine had prayed for me for many years. I was also wearing the earrings I wore on that day. This was my first step in licensed ministry in the Church of England. The words are still so significant as I look to see how God’s calling to me will continue to develop in this next phase of ministry.
I chose to use the second of the new Eucharistic prayers for children where three questions are asked echoing the Passover. The three questions are Why is it right to give thanks and praise?, Why do we share bread and wine? and Why do we follow Jesus? Tow of our Godchildren asked the questions along with a young person from church. It was such a blessing to see them contribute.
I finished with a blessing from the Northumbria Community – I am a Companion and that Celtic spirituality has been significant for me on my spiritual journey so it was important for me to acknowledge that in a service that was of such great importance to me.
I sometimes find like I have a jigsaw spirituality with all sorts of pieces fitting together to make a picture that is unique to me. I value both the structure of Anglican liturgy but also the opportunity to shape it a little too.
This weekend felt like another important marker post in the journey and I feel so encouraged by the support, love and blessings I have received over this past week.