It’s coming up to Petertide (the period around St Peter’s day on June 29th) which means that a whole load of ordinands in the Church of England will emerge from their vicar schools, blinking into the sunlight, and then forming an orderly queue to be ordained. Some will stumble over their cassocks, others will pull nervously at their dog collars, and some will be wearing very snazzy underwear to retain a sense of normalcy amidst the crazy. (This is more common than you think!)
I’ve been living with a bunch of these trainee vicars for the past two years now and I can safely say this: the Church of England is in good hands. Out of the people I know being ordained this summer, there are former nurses, teachers, and zoo keepers, and all three of those occupations and their skills can be very readily applied to the church, especially the latter! But out of the people I know being ordained this summer, there are people who love the Lord Jesus, who go to extraordinary measures for people, for whom doing mission comes as easily as breathing.
They are kind and thoughtful. At times, they have been irritating and have been irritated – but they’re human. And it is how they have dealt with that which marks them out at imminent priests (or deacons, priesting will come a year from now). There are a whole load of churches around the country who are about to be seriously blessed by the presence of these #NewRevs over the coming weeks, months, and years. These #NewRevs are fun and funny, as seen over dinner, at the Christmas Revue, or at the Summer Ball.
I have learnt so much from them. For some of them, they have gone through considerable tragedy and it’s not that they have come through it all unscathed, but they have come through it all with Jesus. Nothing makes people stand out more than those who walk every day with Jesus. There’s something different about them. It’s not that sadness or sin has evaporated, but there is such a sense of joy in them, the joy that comes through staring the crucified God in the eye and in that moment, realising just how desperately, profoundly, perfectly they are loved by Him.
But there are a few things I would like to say to my #NewRevs and maybe some of these things will be universal to all the #NewRevs over the coming weeks.
- If well-meaning parishioners offer you food which turns out to be terrible, just remember how well you did with vicar school “food.” You’ve got this!
- If stuck for a sermon, I’ve got the ‘Seven Constipated Men of the Bible’ video from the Christmas Revue, so feel free to hit me up.
- If you need to put on an event, glitter-covered jars make great decorations, although do be aware that glitter is basically the gonorrhea of the craft world.
- God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. Vicar school was never going to equip you for every possible ministry scenario, but you are so much more equipped than you were when you first walked through the door, so be encouraged.
- Pray. Get down on your knees and pray, pray in the shower, pray walking down the street, pray in the ice cream aisle, buy ice cream, pray whilst eating ice cream.
- Remember these great words from the late Michael Ramsey: ‘May it be said of you, not necessarily that you talked about God cleverly, but that you made God real to people.’
- Finally, remember these words from our saviour, Jesus Christ: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
I’m going to miss you #NewRevs. Go don those dog collars, get your sensible shoes on, and spread the Gospel. I’m praying for you.