This past weekend has been the first of a couple that will see most of my college peers leave the shallow waters and relative safety of training towards ordination and “cross over” to the other side. Next weekend sees almost everyone I started training with three years ago complete a pre-ordination retreat, enter a cathedral as a member of the laity, and leave as a member of the clergy.
In a process that I barely understand, and have trouble explaining to others, they will firstly be ordained Deacons (and will remain so for around a year), and then be ‘Priested’. Both of these are roles which they will embody while they serve their ‘title post’ or curacy.
Their lives will never be the same again. They will be ontologically changed – once ordained you can never go back – in the same way that an individual who becomes a parent discovers their whole identity, experience and outlook on life has been radically and permanently changed in a way that only others who have experienced the same shift can either understand or explain. They will cease to be my peers in a significant way, although I hope they remain my friends.
As previously noted, one of the reasons I am not experiencing the same possible ontological change is that I have no curacy to go to, but the main one is the growing realisation i have come to that this does not feel the right fit for me. I believe I have a vocation, a calling. I suspect that this calling is in some form of Christian leadership. I am 99.95% certain that I made the right decision not to get ordained…
But these next few weeks will be tough for me. As those I walked and studied with these past 3 years go and grow into new lives and places of work, I remain unemployed with no clear sense of what the next stage is likely to be.
I wish all of you who are crossing over the very best. I hope you receive a huge sense of vocational fulfilment, confirmation from God and His people that this is the right thing for you. I hope and pray that you will have confidence in He who sends you on this journey, even when the steps seem awkward, dangerous or just plain silly. Please pray for me that I am able to remain true to my own call, even as I continue to wrestle with how, where and what that might look like.