This full-page report is published in the current edition of the ‘Church Review’ (Dublin and Glendalough), December 2016, p 17:
CITI’s New Ordinands Commissioned as Student Readers
Six ordinands at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute have been commissioned as student Readers by Archbishop Michael Jackson. Jonathan Brown (Down & Dromore), Emma Carson (Down & Dromore), Jonathan Cockerill (Connor), Graham Jones (Dublin & Glendalough) and Karen Salmon (Down & Dromore) were all licensed as Readers during the Community Eucharist in the institute. They were presented for licensing by the Director of the institute, Canon Dr Maurice Elliott and the Lecture in Missiology, the Revd Dr Patrick McGlinchey, who coordinates student placements.
In his sermon the Archbishop spoke about the ministry to which the students would be ordained. He said that the Gospel reading from Luke 14 suggested that weighing up the possible outcomes of a life–choice was liberating. “The top and the bottom of these parables is the following: you and I must make up our minds about the most secure of securities as we know them: materialism. Giving up things that delight us is a requirement of discipleship, so it is bound to be a requirement of the ordained ministry that follows from discipleship. Few of us are ready; fewer of us are willing to live immaterial lives. It is a change of spiritual attitude to which we are invited today and its purpose is to lighten our load and to equip us to be more spiritually nimble and more spiritually alert in our personal discipleship and in our ministry for and with other people,” he stated.
The idea of earthly obedience, as expressed in Philippians (from which the first reading was taken) was unpalatable to most, he said. There was difficulty distancing the contemporary self from inherited faithfulness, the Archbishop suggested. “All seems fine so long as we are caught up in doing things, in positive activism; but when we are asked to give an account of why we do what we believe, we’d be happier just to keep talking about what we do or even doing it and not having to talk about it at all. We, who are called to serve, are called to proclaim and to live resurrection in ourselves, in our communities, in our parishes and for others. Our ministry is not for ‘us’ but for ‘them’ once we move from personal and individual discipleship to public and representational ordained ministry. It is not we who are acclaimed but Jesus Christ as Lord (Philippians 2: 11),” he said.
The Archbishop went on to talk about the public suffering which is presented every time we switch on the television or surf the news on our mobile phones. He suggested there was now an “acceptable level of suffering”.
“The great hole in our conscience is Aleppo and Damascus; it has been Gaza; it has been Mostar; it has been Kigali; it has been Auschwitz. In all of these situations and circumstances – because human beings suffer by the premeditation of other human beings – everyone is dehumanized and nobody does anything about it while it is happening. And still God restores. This is the glory of grace and the miracle of redemption. It is without doubt small–scale but it is not insignificant. It is without doubt hard to find and hard to grasp in a world where we have let politics and media erode straightforward humanity and dignity. The Media thirst for dualism and long to feed a clash of civilizations and give every sign of wishing to herald in the triumph of evil over good. This is the world into which you will be ordained: the world of Trump (whether he is elected to the White House or not) and the world of ISIL. Either nothing has prepared us for this or we have wilfully or fearfully turned our face away from what was right in front of us. The Cross is the touchstone of suffering, of redemption, of resurrection and of community. The Cross is the rallying point of violence, of political annihilation, of politics abused and of hope in a future within God. The Cross is the locus of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man,” he said.
06 December 2016
We are now in the second week of Advent. Throughout this time of preparation for Christ’s coming at Christmas, I am praying each morning and using for my reflections the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).
Today [6 December 2016] is the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, who is remembered in many places not only as the figure around whom the myth of Santa Claus has grown up, but an important role model for the way the Church should provide leadership in protecting the rights of children and speaking out against violence against girls and boys.
On Sunday, I wrote about an article in the USPG Prayer Diary that tells the distressing story of the abuse of 12-year-old Kavita, and how Delhi Brotherhood Society (DBS), which runs a helpline and community action programme to support women who face violence, came to her rescue.
USPG is also marking the time around the beginning of Advent, from 25 November to 10 December, as ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.’
The USPG Prayer Diary:
Tuesday 6 December 2016:
Give thanks for those who teach boys and girls that they do not need to perpetuate the violence they see in their families and communities.
Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, the Church of Ireland, Holy Communion):
Isaiah 40: 1-11; Psalm 96: 1, 10-13; Matthew 18: 12-14.
The Collect of the Day:
Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
Give us grace so to imitate him
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Advent Collect:
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.