Monday, June 18, 2007

The great responsibility and the greater grace

Last night I was over in Downpatrick at the Ordination of Presbyters service in Down Cathedral. Adrian Dorrian and Craig Cooney were ordained. Another great service, with praise led by the choir of St Mark's Newtownards and the praise group of Shankill Parish Lurgan. A good mix of traditional and contemporary. The last hymn was 'Trust and Obey', which was also the last hymn last Sunday night as I bade farewell to Magheralin, so I guess it will always mean a lot to me.

If you've never been to an ordination service before, then there is a key element in the service, when the Bishop reads the charge to the candidates. Just before they are ordained, they are reminded again of the tremendous weight of responsibility they are taking on in the service. I was going to provide illustrations here from the service, but the Church of Ireland website's BCP2004 section doesn't include the ordination services!

Let's just say that the weight is great, and the responsibility scary. But there is something which shines through again and again, even in the midst of reminding the candidates that they can't possibly do it on their own. And that is the grace of God! Hallelujah!

At the end of the charge, the Bishop invites the congregation to pray for the candidates precisely because none of us can bear that weight on our own. Further, we are constantly reminded of the power and grace of God which will equip us for the task.

If it was down to us, we would undoubtedly fail. With the grace of God, we are more likely to succeed, although we're still human. Praise be to God, who equips those whom he calls!

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