Remember your call…
…support the weak, bind up the broken, gather in the outcast, welcome the stranger, seek the lost.
On Monday evening of last week I was reading these words along with a small group sharing in retreat at Ampleforth Abbey, North Yorkshire. The words come from the ordination service for deacons, and the others with me were five women who will be soon be ordained as deacons, along with Karen McBride and Richard Goldstraw, Warden and Deputy Warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order (MDO).
It was a great privilege for me to be with this group – I had been invited because I will be participating in the diaconal ordination service (a week today in Wolverhampton) as part of the proceedings of the Methodist Conference. I was warmly welcomed and cared for, and as I renewed some friendships and made new ones, I was blessed and impressed by the quality of Christian discipleship being lived out within the MDO. Here were people who loved God and loved each other and were committed to sharing that love through their work.
Ampleforth Abbey is a beautiful and peaceful setting for retreat. Between sessions led with a gentle wisdom by Father Terence, there are many places to sit and reflect in the lovely grounds and to work on the task I had set myself – to pray through the 600 pages of the Agenda for next week’s Conference. Underpinning the life of the community is a Benedictine rhythm of prayer and worship in the Abbey. Still missing the rhythm of the Five-Day Community in Ireland a few weeks ago, I found joy and grace in attending Matins, Lauds, Mass, Little Hour, Vespers and Compline; by the end I almost knew when to turn to face the altar!
The deeper Christian rhythm of retreat and engagement was underlined when, on Wednesday morning we woke to the terrible news of the Grenfell Tower fire, a disaster which is still unfolding in all its tragedy, injustice and heartbreak. “Remember your call” is an ongoing challenge, not just to those who are ordained, but to all of us who follow Christ, to find ways to support the weak, bind up the broken, gather in the outcast, welcome the stranger, seek the lost. Churches have been amongst those responding on the ground to the human need and suffering, and our current President and Vice-President, Roger Walton and Rachel Lampard, have written a message which you can read here.
In these final few days before Methodist Conference I will be praying for all that we will share in Birmingham, I will be praying for Laura, Alison, Gail, Selina and Marlene, preparing for ordination as deacons, as well as for those preparing for ordination as presbyters, I will be praying about all the business we will debate, but above all I will be praying that we too will “remember our call”. Jill