This is the shout that the whole congregation make during a Methodist Ordination service.
I’m going to one today; I haven’t been to one, apart from my own in 2001, since 2003 when one was held at the church where I was minister.
They said that when you hear the shout it lifts you up; gives you a view of the mountains that can sustain you through the valleys. I guess that I felt that back in 2001 and that sense of being ‘worthy’, even when I have doubted my own capacity has never entirely left me and despite not being in the place I imagined I would be 18 years ago.
I never expected to have any major contact with the ‘mothership’ (Methodist hierarchy) after leaving church ministry in the Methodist Church back in February 2015, so assisting at the ordination of someone who used to be in the congregation of a church of which I used to be a minister is surprising. It is also rather lovely.
Someone asked me what I feel ‘going back’. 4 things:-
- I had a definite sense of call to go into Methodist Church ministry; 3 and a half years out of church ministry, I feel no sense or desire to go back, but it is good to be open to questioning of any firmly held opinion. ‘Going back’ enables that to happen, I guess.
- Conversely, it is more likely to confirm the (uncertain) direction that I’ve been heading. I used to think that the Christian life was a secure castle; now I think it is more like a coracle on a shifting sea. I have no idea where or what I will be doing in the long term, but that feels right.
- A chance to see what the mainstream church is and how it resources what I do and to reflect on the scars that have healed, but still sometimes ache.
- Maybe it is a reminder to me that what I did in churches did touch people in some way & to give thanks for that, but remembering what John Wesley said: ‘If thou art constrained to bless the instrument, then give God the glory’.
So when I hear that shout, I wonder how I’ll feel?
I guess still ‘worthy’, but in a very different way to how I imagined back in 2001.