8 years ago this past November, I knelt before Bishop Brown. A collection of white robed Priests gathered around him, extending their hands. The Bishop bowed his head in quiet reverence. In the silence, my heart pounding, I remembered the meandering 13 years it took to reach this point. I felt utterly humbled and ill prepared. Acutely aware that whatever happened, I was certain I would need God.
My thoughts were interrupted by the gentle pressure of Bishop Brown laying his hands on my head. It felt like time briefly paused, a rare moment of centered tranquility. The Bishop interrupted my retreat with the words of ordination,
God of grace, through your Holy Spirit,
gentle as a dove, living, burning as fire,
empower your servant Mark
for the office and work of a priest in the Church.
May every grace of ministry rest on these your servants.
Keep them strong and faithful,
steadfast in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
And this Friday, my friend Rev Alan Bentrup will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests within the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. As part of the service, Bishop Fisher will utter these words, similar to what Bishop Brown uttered to me some 8 years ago in New Zealand:
Therefore, Father, through Jesus Christ your Son, give
your Holy Spirit to Alan.; fill him with grace and power, and
make him a priest in your Church.
But the Episcopal liturgy builds more fully than the New Zealand equivalent, with these astonishing words:
May Alan exalt you, O Lord, in the midst of your people; offer
spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you; boldly proclaim the
gospel of salvation; and rightly administer the sacraments of
the New Covenant. Make him a faithful pastor, a patient
teacher, and a wise councilor. Grant that in all things he may
serve without reproach, so that your people may be
strengthened and your Name glorified in all the world. All
this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and
the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.
Alan, as a fellow Priest, I commit to encouraging you to ‘boldly proclaim the
gospel of salvation; and rightly administer the sacraments of the New Covenant’ and invite you to do the same for me. I will daily pray that you are a faithful pastor, a patient teacher, and a wise councilor’, and invite your prayers for me.
God has called you, our church has equipped and is equipping you, and your family and friends support you. This Friday you take both an enormous step and an obvious one. Enormous in that it culminates years of work, discernment and sacrifice, and obvious in that it confirms who God created you to be – in part.
I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you as you seek to glorify God ‘in all the world’.