Comfort Blankets

There is a part of England where I will forever be trying to save a drowning lady, our hands stretching out towards each other within a storm that Jesus has come to calm.

A few years ago I had been ask to model for an artist leading a team of others designing and making a tapestry for their church. I was, apparently, a perfect match for the image of St James that they wanted to portray in a scene depicting Jesus calming a storm with His power and truth as He instructed the disciples to become fishers of men. As I set off for my third and final Examining Chaplain I diverted to the church to accept an invitation to see the completed work.

Standing some distance away from the tapestry my likeness shone out like a reflection, but as I drew closer I became fixated on my fabricated eyes which were locked onto the unseen face of the lady fighting for survival in the storm. The tension in the tapestry was palpable, yet despite the turbulence threatening to envelop the situation my expression was calm, emanating from a security found in Christ that was being extended to the lady in the water. I wanted save the lady in the physical world but Jesus’s presence hinted at a saving in which I would be simply serve as a link between the lady and Christ.

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T minus 1 week

Wells Cathedral

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

I’m worn out.  I haven’t even got to the Bishops’ Advisory and I’m worn out.

I knew this was coming.  It wasn’t a word from God, a message from the Holy Spirit. It was far more mundane than that. It was a mixture of circumstances and the compression of 6 months BAP preparation into 6 weeks.

After putting our house in market last week, in an equal act of faith and practicality, we had been overwhelmed by the response.  We had put our house on the market previously and had 1 offer in 10 months.  This time, admittedly with a different set of economic conditions, we had 4 offers in 4 days.  The house was sold, subject to contract, in under a week.

Now if God isn’t part of our house sale I will eat my hat, and believe me when I say that I don’t like eating hats. Continue reading

Sitting on the fence

As someone exploring the possibility of becoming ordained I am engaging with issues like I have never done before.  I am forcing myself to seek to understand things that I could get away with avoiding until now.  At times such as they are, with some of the issues that are hotly being debated, it is rather attractive though to stay sitting on the fence.
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Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry

Red Dalek, Yellow, Dalek: Articulate, Articulate, Articulate!

Red Dalek, Yellow, Dalek: Articulate, Articulate, Articulate!

The Bible is peppered with suggestions that strength is found in weakness.  On the face it sounds counter-intuitive but realign how you consider such a phrase and the truth is unveiled.  The trouble is that identifying and addressing weaknesses so that they can become strengths can be a painful experience. Continue reading

Challenging and exciting times

This is the final of 3 posts written for my Ministry Enquiry Form, each on 1 of the issues that I was asked to consider before meeting some Examining Chaplains (they will be given the task of discerning whether I should be sent for a BAP).  The first post (Rescued from the darkness) was my thoughts about my spiritual journey so far and considered how my sense of a call to ordained ministry fitted in it.  It was followed by my understanding of ordination (Defining Ordination is harder than you think!).  In this post are my thoughts on what I see as challenges for the Anglican Church in the future, and my role in it:

Examining Chaplains will want to explore with you the nature of the challenges currently facing Christianity and the Anglican Church. What role will the Church have in the future? What will be your role as a leader in mission and ministry? 

Here are what I see important challenges for myself, the Church and the faith (it is not an exhaustive or exclusive list, there are plenty more!).

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Defining Ordination is harder than you think!

Last week I posted the first of 3 questions I have been asked to ponder before meeting some Examining Chaplains; they will be given the task of discerning whether I should be sent for a BAP.

In last week’s post (Rescued from the darkness) I thought over my spiritual journey so far and considered how my sense of a call to ordained ministry fitted in it.  Next week I’ll be posting my thoughts for the final question on the future challenges for the Anglican Church in the future, and my role in it.  They will be collected together as the Ministry Enquiry Form that will be given to the Examining Chaplains to help them in their task.

This week’s post is the second of the questions set by my DDO:

“Please give your understanding of ordained ministry in the Church of England.  Anglicans of different traditions may have different emphases and language to describe ordained ministry, Examining Chaplains will be interested to discover what you think and why.”

Here are my thoughts.

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No sex please, we’re Christians!

Jesus said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbour as yourself.”

This year the subject of same-sex marriages in and out of the headlines.  Often, maybe always, a controversial topic it raises tensions and all too frequently leads to a barrage of abuse, sadly even from those who agree with Christ’s call to love and respect one another. Continue reading

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

With a DDO it can feel like a fine line between an interview, interrogation or inquisition, but they are being helpful, really!

With a DDO it can feel like a fine line between an interview, interrogation or inquisition, but they are being helpful, really!

Have you ever found that the more you look into something the more you realise you don’t know?  Exploring ordination has made me realise just how much I don’t know, or understand, about the Christian faith.

I met with the DDO for the second time last week.  It was quite unlike our first meeting, which was a fairly light hearted chat about my life, my route to faith and to exploring ordination.  Having said that, the DDO did throw a curve ball at that meeting though, about possibly having to move my family in order to train (see Ordination at any cost?).  I should have taken it as a sign that our conversations wouldn’t always been easy. Continue reading

A baptism in social media

As I have said in the past exploring God’s call has got me looking to see Him in each experience I have.  Writing this blog is certainly helping me in that regard as well, not least because I need something worthwhile to write about!

I knew from the start of exploring ordination that the church’s authorised discerners (I’m sure there is a better term for them!) like people to keep a journal.  I enjoy doing that but it is quite different from the blog.  The journal is often simply a stream of consciousness, or a collection of random thoughts and helpful or challenging quotes that I come across.  As it has no audience but myself it never has to be coherent; a consequence being that thoughts are sometimes left hanging, never developed and remain unsubstantiated. Continue reading

Taking Stock – Part 2: The Vocations Chaplain Experience

Patiently waiting to move on

Patiently waiting to move on

In this the second of a two part post I am looking at my experience of meeting with a Vocations Chaplain, having looked at the preceding stages in Part 1.

In the Anglican Diocese I find myself living within those exploring ordination are asked to first meet with their vicar before meeting with a Vocations Chaplain if the vicar feels there is a reason to explore.

As with the vicar and those met at later stages, the Vocations Chaplain (different titles are used for such people, even within a single diocese) is tasked with the job of discerning whether God is indeed calling a person towards ordination. This may take several meetings but if a calling is sensed the person is passed onto a Diocesan Director of Ordinands, or DDO for short. The process continues along similar lines before a person meets with a local bishop and a Bishops Advisory Panel (often simply known as a BAP). Continue reading