This Sunday we kept the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It actually falls on the 15th and in common with many churches we celebrated it on the 14th. Here’s what I said:
Given the increasing shortage of priests you’d think that the Church of England would be falling over itself to welcome anyone who was foolhardy enough to offer themselves for training for the priestly ministry. But I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that that is not the case. I’ve known quite a few people over the years who have expressed interest. Some got put off by the pay and conditions of service. Some realized that it just wasn’t for them. Others made it as far as the selection process. Only a handful were actually chosen to go and train to be priests.
The problem is it’s not easy knowing whether someone is called to be a priest in the Church. For the Church is not like other careers. It doesn’t matter how highly qualified you are or how able you might be – the Church has to decide whether God actually wants you to be a priest regardless of what your other qualifications might be. Important, of course, for the church to be able to discern the kind of people that God is calling. So the Church provides a very helpful 24-page document entitled Criteria for Selection for the Ordained Ministry in the Church of England.
And the introduction to the guide covers such aspects of the selection procedures as:
- The vocation criterion
- Gathering evidence
- Assessing potential and risk
- Developmental and non-developmental issues
Riveting reading. And the guide goes on to cover various aspects of a person’s makeup: spirituality, relationships, personality and character, leadership and collaboration, faith and so on – and I particularly like this one – quality of mind.
All important stuff, of course. I wonder whether God’s ever read it? Continue reading
Yesterday we kept the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Here’s what I said in my sermon.
No matter the question, the answer is always ‘Jesus’. Anyone in the Church who works with children knows that problem. The answer to everything is Jesus!
The story is told of the Sunday School teacher who wanted to teach the children about the importance of being prepared and working hard. So she started her lesson by saying, “I’m going to describe something and when you know what it is put your hand up.” And off she went, “I’m thinking of something that lives in trees…” Nothing. “And it eats nuts…” Nothing. “It has a long bushy tail and can be grey or red…” Still nothing. Then, slowly, one boy put his hand up. The teacher breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Well, Freddie, what do you think it is?” And Freddie replied, “Well, it sounds like a squirrel to me, but I know the answer’s supposed to be ‘Jesus’” Continue reading
This week the gospel reading is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. However, I felt led to talk not about the reading but to address how we should be approaching our keeping of Lent in general. Here is what I said.
There are three signs that you are getting old. One is memory loss. I can’t remember the other four.
What’s your memory like? A few years ago scientists undertook some research done into memory and age. They wanted to find out at what age your brain starts to malfunction. And it’s younger than you think. They discovered that your brain starts to malfunction, mainly because your brain cells start dying, once you reach the age of 40. At that age you can expect to start getting that experience of walking into a room and forgetting why you did, or of going to the fridge and opening the door and then standing there like a lemon thinking “why on earth have I opened the fridge door?” The only comfort you can take from knowing that your memory is fast disappearing is that everyone else over the age of 40 is just as bad and is in the same boat. Continue reading