I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: ‘Go down again – I dwell among the people.’ ― John Henry Newman
On Sunday September 23, 2012 at 7 pm, St. Aidan’s Parish will be host to a CELEBRATION OF NEW MINISTRY. This is a curious term to most. It is raising questions from folks as well; you are having what sort of celebration at your church? Are you starting a new programme? What is the new ministry? Do you have a new service on Sundays now?
This celebration used to be simply called and “Induction.” And when it was called that, it really was just that. It was the day that the priest was formally inducted as the rector of the parish. In the Celebration of New Ministry, the priest is still inducted as the Rector; however the liturgy is truly a celebration of a new chapter, a new relationship, and a new beginning for the people of God in a given parish. On Sunday evening, we come together not simply to celebrate Kevin in his new parish, but we come together to celebrate the gifts that the community of St. Aidan’s collectively bring to the Table and will use to the glory of God in Northwest London. If all we did was celebrate this new job, for this new priest in this new place, we would be really limiting what God is doing. Admittedly, it becomes easy to fall into clericalism in the church. We encourage it in many ways. But God has a way of bringing us back to reality. While we can often get busy climbing steeples to be close to God, God is busy calling to us from the ground to come back to the ground level and get to work being love, being justice, being hope, being the church!
Sunday’s Celebration of New Ministry will be a celebration of God’s work at ground level. It will be a celebration of the people God has put in place to do the work necessary to build the City of God here and now. It will be a celebration of the notion that no one person can do God’s work and that there is no magic bullet to solve the complex issues that face the communities called churches today. The liturgy itself will acknowledge the importance of the people of God of all ages in our community. We will raise up the ministries of all the baptized. This New Ministry that we celebrate is multilayered and it is diverse. It is a good opportunity to hold up our children’s ministry, our music ministry, our youth ministry, our pastoral ministry, our liturgical ministry, our sacramental ministry, our leadership ministry, our outreach ministry,…this list goes on! There is much to uphold and much to give thanks for at St. Aidan’s and Sunday is an opportunity to draw our attention to what God is doing among us day by day.
This liturgy also allows us to see that we at St. Aidan’s are not alone. As a part of a diocesan family we will see Bishop Bennett’s support for our work in the presence of Archdeacon Salt who will induct me as rector on the Bishop’s behalf. We will see the support of our diocese in the presence of clergy and laity from around the diocese. We will see support in the presence of clergy and laity from our ecumenical partners in the neighbourhood and in our city. We will see in the very presence of those around us on Sunday evening that this labour of loving, forgiving, healing, proclaiming, receiving, and City of God building, is not an isolated activity – it is a communal one. On Sunday we might take pause to step back from the parochial ways that we have learned from the church of yesteryear to see the potential that is unleashed when we see God’s reign anew; a reign where (to quote the hymn All are Welcome) the outcast and stranger bear the image of God’s face. As we seek to dream God’s reign anew we become aware that it is a kingdom where generosity is for all instead of for some.
We join together this Sunday evening as a people of God with diversity as one of our greatest gifts. We gather around the Table together in celebration of the One who has given all of us the mandate to Love. We come together to follow Jesus who very much dwelt and dwells among us. We follow Jesus – whose perspective is very much on the ground level. Jesus who is offering new life, new hope, and a renewed mandate to the church. We follow Jesus who calls us to risk loving, risk proclaiming, and risk welcoming the stranger. Jesus who is making all of this possible with an incarnational presence in the diversity of our community. We come together to celebrate new ministry with an old friend – Jesus. And as John Bell reminds us in the hymn, ‘Inspired by Love and Anger,’ this old friend will take what we offer and call us to leave our comfort zones to make real that new life, that new hope, and that renewed mandate of Love.
Amused in someone’s kitchen, asleep in someone’s boat,
Attuned to what the ancients exposed, proclaimed and wrote,
A Saviour without safety,
a Tradesman without tools
Has come to tip the balance with fishermen and fools.
This is risky business – but …. who better to have sleeping in our boat when we set sail together on tumultuous waters, than our Old Friend!
All are welcome at the Celebration of New Ministry at St. Aidan’s
Sunday September 23, 2012 at 7 pm
A wine and cheese Reception will follow.