I recently had the privilege of attending the ordination service for Reverend Peter Hilton, our former youth worker who was ordained Priest in St.Malachy’s, Hillsborough alongside Reverend Karen Salmon and Reverend Jonathan Brown.
The preacher at the service was Reverend Rob Jones, the Rector of Rathmines and Harold’s Cross in the diocese of Dublin. It was Bishop Harold’s last ordination service before his forthcoming retirement. In his powerful sermon, Reverend Jones was reflecting on what it means to be a Christian leader in a world that is rapidly changing and where Christian values are more the exception than the norm. He spoke to the candidates of modelling their ministry on two qualities that we see in the life and ministry of Jesus our great high priest. He spoke about authority and Jesus spoke and acted with power and authority that came from His Heavenly father. The other quality he reflected on in Jesus’s life and ministry was vulnerability. Jesus also demonstrated great vulnerability at times, especially as he got nearer to the time of His own crucifixion and death. Jesus was not afraid of demonstrating either or both of these qualities. We love the stories of His power and authority, his miracles and his incredible teaching even from a young age. He’s also unashamed to admit the struggle he faced in the Garden of Gethsemane, his need for the prayers and the company of others, at this, and other challenging moments in his life. It’s not easy for those of us who remember the days when the church was strong to see the vulnerability. When we remember packed churches and thriving organisations and activities, it’s hard to understand the changes in culture and society. It’s a struggle to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers or there is no quick fix to arrest the declining numbers.
Reverend Jones also spoke of the inner joy that comes from being a person of faith, a joy that goes beyond our personal circumstances and which is built upon that relationship we are invited to have with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Harvest is a season where we give thanks for God’s wonderful provision for the earth and its people, for the way that seeds planted many months ago have taken root in the soil and brought forth fruit and crops in the most amazing way. From a spiritual perspective we think too about sowing the seeds of faith in the lives of those around us and all those people who have never either heard of or experienced God’s love in a personal way. Is there a way we can demonstrate that it is real and personal in our lives and has made a difference? Can we be unashamed of the Gospel in an age that is highly suspicious of Christian teaching and values?
This year we welcome someone from the agency Tearfund to our morning Harvest Services at 10 and 11.30am on Sunday 27th October. Our speaker at the Evening Service at 7pm will be Canon Michael Parker, the Rector of St.Gall’s, Carnalea. Our loose collection on Harvest Sunday will go to support the work of the Bishop’s Appeal. There will be envelopes in the pews to enable those who are UK Taxpayers to make their contribution worth an extra 25% at no additional cost to themselves. The Bishop’s Appeal supports projects run by agencies like Tearfund,
Christian Aid, Fields of Life, CMS and SAMS and Crosslinks in the world’s poorest countries. Our Evening Harvest will be followed by a supper in the hall hosted by the Mothers’ Union.
As we give thanks to God for his mercy and faithfulness, we give thanks also for the life and ministry of Canon Noel Battye who served here as Rector from 1980-2008. His priority was always to point people towards Jesus and the importance of their spiritual life. While he never sought the limelight himself, so many of us have memories of his powerful sermons, his pastoral care and the way that he sowed those seeds of faith in the lives of many here and further afield through his broadcasting career.
We take this opportunity to wish you a blessed Harvest season and we hope you can join us as we give thanks to God on Sunday 27th October.
With best wishes
Jonathan Pierce (Rector)
Telephone 02890 793822