Coming home

Reflections on Ordination Day

We arrived at the west doors of the Cathedral to be greeted by the congregation and procession who stood facing us. As the organ thundered with the music of the opening hymn I stood as a lay person on the threshold of the place that has been my spiritual home for the last time. The atmosphere was thrilling: filled with power, majesty, joy and wonder. I felt immensely grateful for and supported by family, friends, members of the Cathedral community and work colleagues who came to participate in the ordination service.

It may sound clichéd, but 10 years ago I could not have imagined this day. I had started going to services in the Cathedral, mainly Sunday Evensong at first, desperately in need of a fresh encounter with God, faith and experience of church. Over the subsequent months I was exposed to the transforming effects of the wonder of the building, soaked in centuries of prayer and worship; the beauty of multi-sensory liturgy and superb choral music that ranges from heart-meltingly intimate to fall down before God awesome. This combined with stimulating preaching and teaching that left room for questions and doubts enabled me to encounter God and know Christ in a more personally authentic way.

Seven years ago I became lay chaplain to The Blue School in Wells and have had the privilege of walking alongside students, staff and parents in the ups and downs of life. It was in this context that I first had the stirrings of a call to ordained ministry and after the Church’s discernment and selection process I started training at Sarum College in Salisbury in September 2012, combining part-time study and training with work and home responsibilities. This made for a challenging three years, but one of the benefits of this type of training is that I was able to live it out in my work and home church contexts. Cathedrals are wonderful places to learn and practice liturgy, if somewhat daunting to preach in!

Chaplaincy provides a stimulating context in which to grow into ordained ministry and offers many opportunities to grapple with the nature of my calling in a largely secular environment. The support of my friends and family, who had to make adjustments too, encouraged and sustained me, and the wisdom and guidance from my Cathedral training ministers, tutor and local learning group added greatly to the quality of my academic and formational training.

As I stood with trepidation and yet excitement at the threshold of ordination, it felt like coming home for a touch of grace in order to be sent out again. Maybe this is what life in the Spirit is like; we come home to God myriad times so that we go out enabled to accompany others on their homeward journeys.

Revd Joy Hawes, Assistant Curate, The Isle of Wedmore Benefice: Wedmore, Theale, Blackford and Allerton

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