I have finished three years at theological college, and although there is still written work to be completed, it will be completed alone, apart from the community of students and staff, who are on their summer break. Shortly my family and I will move to the parish where I will begin work as a licensed pastoral assistant, prior to ordination as a deacon in Salisbury cathedral this September.
And I feel rather afraid… I am only a human being, only doing what all human beings ought to do… trying to get to know God better and to love and serve him and my fellow human beings. I don’t have any special strength or super powers, I am not the cleverest or the most charming or the most attractive, or even the most organised person I know… so I have nothing in particular to recommend me to the task.
In fact I am quite cowardly, lacking in self-confidence and prone to worry that I’m rather in people’s way.
This weekend, the UK celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee… and watching scenes from the many documentaries about her life on TV, it is striking how small and neat and straightforward she has always looked. It must have been terrifying for her to be faced with such an immensely important role when she acceded to the throne… for the rest of her life she was to be publicly visible, working as a diplomat and spokesperson, representing a vast body of other people, come fair weather or foul… with endless demands on her time, little rest, and no forseeable prospect of retirement. She would face judgement and criticism, adulation and excitement -most of which would be largely to do with her role and public persona rather than her private personality… Close friendships would be few and cautious, and there would be no question of her breaking down in public, no matter how emotionally exhausted she was…
But she has done it… she has kept going, and always looked smart and been gracious, and often been very wise, even when met by inexperienced, or unkind and silly people.
I’m so glad she has faithfully done this big tiring job of being Queen for so long, because it is inspiring: it inspires me that I may, if I am kind and careful and calm,and if I keep turning to God for strength throughout each day, I may just manage to fulfill the small role that God is calling me to.
To be loved by God, and to love God, and to love others for God’s sake, and even to be loved by others for God’s sake… to be human in God’s sight and in the sight of others… actually it sounds like a very big task -thank God that he has gone before us in the task, or I wouldn’t think it remotely possible. And thank God that he goes with us in the task, so we are never alone.