Tag Archives: Ordination

Graduation

Last night was my graduation from Griffith University as a PhD—a lot of fun, even though I spent half the morning with a case of the vomits. (Too much information? Ok, no more then…)

The thesis was titled, Presbyteral Rites of Ordination, 1977-1995: The Uniting Church in Australia ‘within the faith and unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’. I’m tossing up putting the synopsis up on the blog, if there”s any interest. For now, a pic of me with my wonderful wife:

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New ordination services for the Uniting Church in Australia

On 17 November I posted that I was back from Sydney, where one of the things I did (on behalf of the Working Group on Worship) was to present the Assembly Standing Committee with new services of ordination and induction for ministers of the Word—presbyters in many other churches—and deacons.

They take effect from 1 January, and they’ve now been posted! You can find them on this page; they are services 1-4. (Services 9 & 10 are the current ordination services.)

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Back from Sydney…

…and not long after I was home, the worst storm in 20 years hit Brisbane. Some of the congregation sustained damage to trees, but I haven’t heard of any more than that.

At the Assembly Standing Committee, I presented two things:

A document they had requested called A Brief Statement on Ordination, which succinctly states the Assembly’s position as the council responsible for doctrine in the Uniting Church; and new services of Ordination and Induction for ministers of the Word and deacons.

All were accepted following lively and constructive discussion. I’ll post a copy of A Brief Statement soon; the new services are effective from 1 January 2009.

On the ordination theme, I’m now on two weeks’ study leave on my PhD thesis on ordination liturgies. What fun!!

(While I was in Sydney I again enjoyed the hospitality of Anita Monro and Russell Morris, who are off in 2009 to take up placements in the wild (north)west of NSW in Armidale. I was ordained with Anita almost 20 years ago on 10 December. Thanks so much both of you!)

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Ordination and Bungeeing (and Broken Symbols…)

I was in Melbourne a few days ago for a long-awaited and long-desired occasion: the ordination of Dr Avril Hannah-Jones, who blogs here.

The occasion was held at The Church of All Nations, a Uniting Church mission in inner-city Carlton.

I had a lovely time. Avril met me at the airport, and once her alb was safely dropped off at CAN we had lunch and browsed the wonderful Readings bookshop, before making our way back to the church. 

The service was very good. Robert Gribben (Professor of Worship and Mission; former member of the Working Group on Worship; my co-editor for Uniting in Worship 2) preached an excellent sermon, which you may find at the end of this post.

After the ordination, these evidential photos were taken:

 

Avril and the preacher

Avril and the preacher

 

Avril with some bloke

Avril with some bloke

 

The next day, we were reflecting how ordination is one of those steps in life—like marriage, or having children—that you can’t take back. A truly life-changing step, after which you are not the same person as you were before.

Steps like that can take a little time to get used to. They can be anxiety-provoking. It has struck me since I got home that there are other steps that are life-changing; we should include baptism in this list, after all. But a few weeks ago my 21-year old son took another kind of step that he couldn’t take back. He took a step out of a little booth suspended high above us, and fell. The fact that his ankles were attached to a length of rope did not make his parents feel any better!

Chris didn’t hesitate in stepping out; I couldn’t do what he did myself. He’s braver than I am! Here again is photo evidence:

 

Looking down

Looking down

 

A leap of faith!

A leap of faith!

 

 

Is it a step too far to compare these two irrevocable steps? I don’t think so. Each requires determination; each—including bungee jumping—is a response to a call.

A bungee jump is of necessity a plunge into thin air. An ordination is a step into—what? Perhaps it is a leap of faith. The Brisbane-based spiritual director Patrick Oliver talks about ‘falling into God’. I was certainly glad Chris’s fall ended in the expected way; but as we each fall into God, how readily will we take that step?

One huge difference is that while bungee jumping has a definite time limit, falling into God is a lifelong project. When will it end? Never. Not even in eternity.

As an ordained minister falls into God, she falls in community. We are not shamanic figures, falling spectacularly to the awed gaze of the onlookers. We fall (in the words of Robert’s sermon following) as broken symbols, inviting faith in God. We fall into God as representative figures, joined by a common baptism, inviting others to fall with us. How will we land? All we know is that underneath are the everlasting arms.

Avril and Chris, both of you have taken wonderful, irrevocable, steps. I’m glad I was there.

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And for those who still wish to read, here (with no mention of bungee jumping!) is Robert’s fine sermon:

 

THE JABBOCK LIMP

A sermon preached at the Ordination to the Ministry of the Word of 

Dr Avril Hannah-Jones, Church of All Nations, Sunday 5th October 2008.

Genesis 32: 22-31; Matthew 5: 13-16

Gordon Lathrop, the Lutheran liturgical scholar, in his marvellous book The Pastor, a spirituality, begins by observing that pastors (which is the Lutheran word for priests, ministers, preachers) are symbols, and the tools of their ministry are symbols. This symbolic status might be glimpsed by the public in a cross around the neck or a clerical collar, or an icon on the study wall, or a well-thumbed New Testament for the home visit.  These, he says, are secondary things: ‘the primary symbols in a Christian pastor’s care ought to be quite specific things, basically communal in their practice, historic in their ecumenical centrality, widely resonant in their meaning’. 

He means, quite simply, what he often calls ‘Book, Bath and Table’, preaching, baptism and eucharist.  From these three primary symbols, he sees all else flowing, especially the church’s concern for the world in intercession and in the collection for the poor, the first sign of social justice. These responses lose their point if they become unconnected to Book, Bath and Table. They are the fundamental implements of those called to the order of ministry in the Church.

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