Today I will renew the vows I made at my Ordination on the Feast of St. Boniface June 5, 1998. It is custom in the church that Hoy Thursday, the Bishop provides for a service of blessing of oils of Chrism and Unction as well as make opportunity for Presbyters to renew their Ordination vows.
This is the first time I will have renewed my vows. I’m not sure why really. It may have something to do with the fact that my Ordination in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador was not the happiest occasion in my life. [Not to get off on a tangent but I did not have a great relationship with the bishop].
In any event I am kind of looking forward to a moment of prayer and renewal today as I get ready to celebrate the next three very wonderful days in the church’s year. There is something neat about renewing my vows at noon and then washing feet tonight as an act of service.
I recently, have been reading the New Zealand Prayer Book. In fact last night we celebrated a Eucharist from it and it was wonderful. The language is striking. So I thought with this coming up today, I would look to see what an ordination liturgy looks like in New Zealand.
The Invitation from the Bishop in our liturgy speaks lots of doctrine and canons. How does the bishop approach the ordinand in New Zealand? With these words;
Priests in the Church are called to build up Christ’s congregation,
To strengthen the baptised, and to lead them as witnesses to Christ in the world.
To do this they are called to be pastors. They are to share people’s joys and sorrows, encourage the faithful, recall those who fall away, heal and help the sick.
Above all they are to proclaim God’s word and take their part in Christ’s prophetic work, to declare forgiveness through Jesus Christ, to baptise, to preside at the Eucharist, to administer Christ’s holy Sacraments.
When compared to the big diatribe about canons and the authority of scripture etc, this language is revolutionary. In this little invitation the Bishop reminds the candidate of the real work of priest. It is a reminder that as priest I am called to share in the joys and sorrows that we all face as community. I am called to heal, to help, and above all to proclaim God’s word. This speaks to me far more than canons do. You see I think the root of ministry is love. If we take seriously our ministry as the baptised then we take seriously the call to love one another and to enter into the others lives. We who are renewing our ordination vows today should also be reminded of that call. We need to be present to the communities we serve. We have to enter in the joy and the sorrow. We also ought to seek to be better at proclaiming. Often the ordained leave the preparation for preaching to the lat of the week. In this invocation we see that it is our primary responsibility and as such we all ought to take very seriously the preparation for our opportunities week to week to proclaim love hope, forgiveness and healing – in short the Good News.
Having said that, there is much preparation left yet for the next three days and I am certain that I should get to it. In fact …I have to get to that renewal of vows. Isn’t there something in the ordinations vows about being on time. Pray for me!