“There is no question that the root of my vocation is spiritual. It sits in a part of me that is to do with prayer and contemplation.”
Mac is Associate Priest in the Benefice of All Saints, Martock and Holy Trinity, Ash. As a non-stipend minister, he balances working for the National Trust with his ministry. Speaking over the phone during his lunch break, Mac tells me that unusually, he didn’t go to church for 20 years but always had a strong contemplative prayer life. He began attending church again and soon found people asking him to do some reading and helping with children’s services, something he didn’t feel entirely comfortable with at first.
“You start to ask yourself and God questions like, ‘Why me? Is this right? Have I got something to offer? Could I do this?’”
Mac describes his journey as a series of stepping stones; the first few precarious and unstable. After receiving the support and encouragement of those around him, Mac felt God was calling him.
“I asked one person why I was on this journey. I didn’t think it was really right and I didn’t really want to go for it. They said to me, ‘Well all I can say is I’d love you as my vicar.’ OK, they might have been playing to my vanity a bit, but there was also something grounded about that.”
It’s in the grounded, everyday actions of our friends, colleagues, husbands, wives and neighbours that Mac believes God can truly reveal himself and his plan for others.
“We kind of think of God in some way, shape or form as being this huge, distant, absent figure. There’s something really awesome about that, which is quite right and yet in the same token, he’s completely grounded in our lives in an incarnational way.”
For Mac life is one of prayer, contemplation and reflection but also of working, walking and talking with others, helping to guide them too.
“I think it’s that kind of incarnational message; we feel embodied in a sense to be compelled by our prayer and called in some way, however small it is, to mimic ministry and teaching and healing and worship and to remember the promise that we make, that we will remember God through Jesus, through the sacrament.”
God may not call each and every one of us to ordained ministry, but we can all be ministers, teachers and leaders. The priesthood of all believers is alive and well in the Diocese of Bath & Wells through caring community groups, volunteering and shared worship, as well as the grounded, everyday actions of love, energy and encouragement. Through each of us, God’s plan is unfolding.
First Printed in the April 2013 edition of Manna Magazine. Interview by James Butterworth.