So… Husband is ordained! Hoorah!
He wore the dress, said yes, got blessed and… Well, how on earth do I sum up the rest?!
The Rest… Hmmm… Maybe a little background!
See. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, an Anglican by tradition. I became a Christian at sixteen, after a lot of preliminary conversations, at an ‘altar call’ during a rock concert. I sealed the deal a year later, getting baptised (that’s the symbolic dunking of willing adults who want to show they’ve been washed clean by Jesus), in a river by two blokes in shorts and one in a wetsuit. Thereafter, if anyone asked what denomination I belonged to, I’d proudly tell them, “Oh we don’t subscribe; we just love Jesus!” (You know the type!). My faith has gone up and down in intensity since then, and I think when I married my rural, clergy-son Husband we were both a tiny bit lost in that respect. (By which I mean we worked ‘in mission’, but had our first kiss after drinking through the alphabet and vomitting on each other’s shoes. Romantic.) We took a while to find a church we both liked, and had just started to find our feet again when Husband decided his collar was itchy, and that he ought to go and find an Anglican Church to work for. Long and short of it is, he applied for a part time youth worker position a million miles away, realised it was a stupid idea and withdrew- but not before they had passed his details on to a more suitably situated establishment down the road. A divine appointment, in my book.
This church and this job was the game-changer for us, in more ways than we ever thought possible. Admittedly, Husband very quickly settled and matured, leaving me behind for quite a while; flailing and flagging in my stubborn, PJ-clad PGCE year, refusing to talk to God until He pulled me out of such fresh hell! In fact, I specifically remember hiding under the covers after one particularly hideous teaching practise, refusing to get out of bed. Husband dragged me out by the feet and insisted that Bible Study was the best place for me. (Yes, my face did that too!) In an attempt to call his bluff, I said I’d get in the car but absolutely refused to change my clothes. He said fine. I said fine. We repeated the conversation for 45 minutes until we were there- both looking resolute, but slightly more embarrassed than when we had left the house! However, I think the fact that the group couldn’t care less what I was wearing (clothes or facial expression!), and that it did actually prove to be the best place for me, paid off dividends. Eventually, with their supportive cell groups, mentors, prayer groups and constant insistence that we aren’t really Anglican either, this place completely won me over. We moved into the area, ditched some destructive habits and enjoyed a fresh start- learning once more how to serve and worship and grow in an environment that could be best described as charismatic, (that’s the ‘ditch the dresses and stick your arms in the air; sway to the music like you really, really care’ type.) It was here, a year later, that I took the opportunity to be confirmed (a kind of sober, less emotional method of declaring your faith to the masses and nailing your colours to the C of E mast). I guess this just came at a good point in life to reaffirm my baptism commitment without actually doing the same thing again; while, at the same time, allowing me to officially sign up to support Husband in his exploration of ordained ministry.
So, that’s where we- and specifically I- am coming from.
Now, fast forward a few years to Theological college, where we discover that actually, our brand of charismatic evangelical church is much more in the minority than we had assumed. There are an awful lot of people, young and old, who are still extremely passionate about “smells and bells” and costumes and props; Holy methods and rituals for worshipping God. It has been incredibly eye opening and, out of respect for those people, I want to apologise in advance for some comments made in this, (personal opinion, not in the least bit theological), blog. See, from my honest, Anglicanalien spouse-eye view… I have to admit… I found some bits just a little bit weird. (I’d love to say “it’s weird but I get it” again… But at the moment, I’m still just on weird!).
I mean, to be fair, it’s not the weirdest service we’ve been to. Last year, we witnessed a certain Archbishop seated on a throne, amidst the set of certain Mystery Plays; blessing each ordinand as they were announced and unveiled in slow motion, like contestants on The X Factor. So, while it wasn’t as entertaining as that, I still couldn’t help but be distracted by the sheer theatricality of the costumes and processions, (and, yes, an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction that I shall explain another time!) I mean, at one point, Husband was asked to kiss his scarf… What’s that about?!
A teenage friend of the family came up afterwards and informed me that Husband had “definitely joined a cult”. It’s not hard to see why, is it?! I said, “yes he has rather. But don’t worry, it’s a legal cult and the most recommended in the country, so I think we’re safe for now!”
In all seriousness though, I think whilst I would describe the event as emotional but ever so slightly ridiculous; it did drive home an important point for me. That the event, like a wedding or a baptism, is exactly that. An event. The words and vows and ceremonies performed are important, monumental occasions; we will remember, record and frame them forever; but it is really what happens afterwards that counts. It is the living out, fulfilling, and living up to the promises made and the prayers prayed that makes all the difference.
So, the fact that I didn’t feel quite as emotional or Spiritually moved by the Ordination Service as I thought I would is neither here nor there, really, is it? There will have been people there, up the front and in the congregation, who found some parts as odd as I did. Yet, there will also have been people there for whom those parts were incredibly significant. To a large extent, however, neither viewpoint really matters (hear me out!) in the long run. For yesterday was just the start for each of them; a sending out into the real world, for the real work on the ground. No matter how we choose to worship our God, it’s what continues going on inside, manifesting on the outside; faith expressing itself through love; that truly unites us all.
In that light then, I don’t mind saying that the party thrown by our new church was actually the highlight of the day for me! They were so kind and generous and welcoming, to both us and our guests, that I finally began to feel excited about the real work to come. From what we saw, this appears to be a place where people love to serve. And who doesn’t want to serve or lead in a place like that?! (Besides which they had Pimms and cream tea, with a BBQ and a bouncy castle. And… breaking news… They’re also getting a loo! What more could you want in a curacy?!)
So, the deed is done,
The real work begun,
But with Pimms, cream tea and cake!
So despite the collar,
Weird hats and fodder,
I think there are worse decisions a Husband could make!
Well done love, we’re proud of you. (And to be fair, you do and half scrub up well in your gear!) Xxx