Friends, colleagues, co-workers in the field of the Lord known as Sydney Central Coast Presbytery: this Saturday afternoon we will gather as a Presbytery for the Ordination of our own colleague and candidate, Fiona Blair, at Pittwater Uniting Church at 2pm.
We will gather together in worship, joyful and solemn. We gather as a formal meeting of the Presbytery, to do one of the most important things a Presbytery is tasked to do. We will pray for, examine and set apart a person who has for many years sought God’s will for her life, offered herself for mission, ministry and service, submitted to the Church’s requirements for formation in ministry, repeatedly subjected herself to the scrutiny, discernment and advice of her peers, and been found ‘worthy’ to represent Christ in his humility and self-sacrifice as a servant of his church. We will charge her with a sacred duty and trust, and commit to walking alongside her in that task, for God’s sake.
Ordination of a minister is widely recognised as a ‘sort-of’ sacramental event. In the laying-on of human hands, we see an outward and visible sign of the Holy Spirit’s invisible grace given for the duties of ministry and the commitment of life needed to lead the church of Jesus Christ. The Uniting Church remains committed and thankful for the gifts and ministries of every member of the church; but when a person follows the divine call that leads into the ministry of the Word or of Deacon, a special gift is being offered and a covenant made. The Church makes a claim on that person, and asks them to hand over their future plans, ambitions, talent and labour, and to take on instead the ‘yoke’ of an ox pulling the plough of Jesus through the field of God. The Church, for its part, promises to support them, pray for them, provide for them and work with them, but never seems to promise that the yoke will be easy, the burden light, or the soil soft. That bit is Jesus’ job alone. The ordered minister will always carry the weight of the church on their own shoulders. And will love it.
All members of Presbytery, please make the extra effort needed to come to church on Saturday afternoon. Be there to support Fiona, yes, but be there to BE the Uniting Church at its best and most hopeful. Members, if you can’t possibly get there, ask another from your church to take your place. Ministers, please wear your liturgical finery, at least your stole (the appropriate colour is red) to show that we carry that yoke together. Meantime, pray for Fiona as she gets her head around this extraordinary event; for Jim and others who are leading and participating; and for the whole church who will benefit from this gift of a life in joyful obedience to Christ.