St Bartholomew and All Saints

Royal Wootton Bassett

Dear Friends,

In last month’s newsletter, marking his 40th anniversary of priesthood, Michael Jones wrote of his ordination and subsequent life as an ordained minister, its joys and its challenges.

Appropriate then that this weekend (30th June and 1st July) hundreds of people will be gathering in Salisbury Cathedral to celebrate the ordination of 13 new priests and 7 new deacons - brand new Church of England    ministers (or trainee vicars) selected, trained and authorised to serve God and his  people here in Salisbury Diocese. They are going to be, I’m sure, two glorious  services.

And not least because one of those to be ordained deacon will be Ollie  Blease, our very own curate-to-be.

For the last three years Ollie has been studying at Ripon College Cuddesdon, near Oxford, getting to grips with all things theological, pastoral and spiritual, in readiness for the task. And on Sunday Bishop Nicholas will ordain him deacon.

Back in the early days, as congregations grew in size and number and geographical spread, the Church’s leaders decided they needed greater organisation and a more structured hierarchy of ministries. And so developed the three-fold order of ministries with which we are familiar in the Church of England today – bishops, priests and deacons, all conferred by the laying on of hands and the calling down of the Holy Spirit, all called to serve God and God’s church, all giving their lives and their energies to be used by God.

Exciting times for us here at St Bartholomew and All Saints therefore. Except… Ollie’s arrival doesn’t let the rest of us off the hook. In welcoming Ollie as our curate, we are also welcoming someone who will show us what it is to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love…. and then help us do the same. Because the Church ordains individuals not only for what they can then do, but also for what they symbolise or represent to the rest of us.

All Christians are called to live fruitful lives in the service of others. It is the mission of the whole church – bishops, priests, deacons and lay people – to continue the saving work of Jesus Christ. At our baptism we all take this responsibility on. But the church ordains, or authorizes some especially, so that they can then show in their life and in their actions the ways of Jesus Christ. It’s not a matter of everyone else in the pews just sitting back and being done to, but so that everyone else in the pews might be encouraged by what they see to go and do similarly.

So, as we hold in our thoughts and prayers Ollie, and all the other men and women this weekend committing their lives and their energies in the service of God – taking on the hugely privileged task of helping people get in touch with God …. we might also want to think what a fruitful life lived in the service of others might look like for us – and what it is God might actually be calling us to do for him today.

And so we pray…

Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, by your Holy Spirit you have appointed various orders of ministry in the Church: look with mercy on your servants now called to be deacons and priests; maintain them in truth and renew them in holiness, that by word and good example they may faithfully serve you to the glory of your name and the benefit of your Church. Amen.

Canon Jane