Reflections on ordination
If you were planning to get to Wells Cathedral, you really wouldn’t start from Norwich, or so I thought! God clearly had other ideas, so after a long journey I found myself alongside nine others, kneeling before Bishop Peter on Sunday 5th July, as he prayed for the gift of the Holy Spirit during our ordination to the Diaconate.
To reach that point my journey took me from Norfolk via Cambridge to serve in Creech St Michael, Ruishton and Thornfalcon. My spirituality has changed during my time at college, discovering that as an Anglican Church we hold together in creative tension both the Catholic and Reformed traditions. Finding God in both, I tried to be open to new experiences by just going along to experience and asking lots of questions afterwards! I discovered a more sacramental approach to worship, Benediction, the reserved sacrament (that feels like sitting with a friend) and the ministry of reconciliation. Through these experiences I feel greatly blessed.
It was therefore with trepidation that I arrived at the ordination retreat in Abbey House, Glastonbury, unsure of how others might react to those aspects of connecting with God that I found so helpful. In fact the retreat was a wonderful mix of silence and getting to know a complete set of new people. I laughed more than I have done in six months and found joy and praise alongside a depth of prayer, and profound moments of God being tangibly in our midst. We were skillful led by the Ven. Caroline Baston and Revd. Sue Rose.
So there is a real sense of things coming together at the moment, and it feels like the right place at the right time. The road has not been easy however. As with so much of life, it’s been a time of mixed emotions, coping with bereavement and a big move to Somerset in the space of a few months. As for many of us, there have been times when I nearly ran away. In June I had a real ‘Gethsemane moment’ in the last week of college; asking God to take the cup away, when the prospect of ordination felt too much to bear. The answer from God came straight back affirming my calling.
In my mind’s eye, I stood feeling naked at the foot of the cross in a place of almost unbearable pain. 24 hours passed and the pain went, although I was still at the foot of the cross. Two weeks, a move and the ordination retreat came before I start to get a sense of moving down from the hill. Slowly being clothed. But now I was wearing someone else’s garments for the ordination, having forgotten my own. Thank you to the kind person who happened to bring two outfits with her. I get a sense that it was meant to be that way! During the Cathedral service it was wonderful to see my family and friends. I was lost in wonder and praise, as our oaths rang out through the ancient nooks and crannies. The moment of resurrection came at last!
So here I am. A bright shiny new deacon who is looking forward to working with my training incumbent and learning from and with her, as we explore diaconal ministry in our Benefice.
Key moments that stay with me from the last few days are the foot-washing on the eve of ordination and Bishop Peter’s clear call to mission in the places God has called us to serve; a call that differs for all baptised Christians as our geographical place, our personal gifts and the Holy Sprit come together. I’m looking forward to where the road ahead leads, and am grateful of the provision of God and the wonderful welcome, and very special travelling companions I have found.
Revd Julia Curtis, Assistant Curate, Creech St Michael and Ruishton with Thornfalcon