Church of England Diocese of Leicester Skeffington

Do you sometimes feel as though you’re an imposter in the church?

29 Jun 2021, 9 a.m.

Do you sometimes feel as though you’re an imposter in the church? As though you’re not a proper Christian, and that sooner or later someone’s going to notice that you’re not a proper believer like they are?

Do you sometimes think you don’t pray properly, or hard enough or often enough?

You don’t read the Bible often enough; you don’t understand all this doctrine stuff that you say you believe? Well, don’t worry. You’re not alone. I reckon there’s a lot of us – we’re called “the church”!

If we had been in normal times now this weekend would have seen many men and women being ordained in cathedrals up and down the country; “Peter-tide” being the most popular time in the church’s year for ordinations.

And I dare say, that throughout the process that those men and women have had to go through they too have probably had doubts and wondered whether they are good enough Christians to be ordained into the ministry of the Church of England.

If we believe that all Christ’s followers who are clergy are supposed to be efficient and effective people, people of standing and status, people who have impressive skills of oration, and have poise and clever management skills, …… then we miss the point!

Because the only thing they’re supposed to be is people who react when faith is gifted to them. And that applies to all of us too, not just to those who are called to ordination.

There’s a lovely sentence in the Baptism service.

“Faith is the gift of God to his people”.

So, all that God wants to see in us is to see that we possess the tiniest kernel of faith.

Obviously, we’re not all called to be ordained, but we are all baptised and therefore we are all called to be faithful disciples.

I had expected that in this diocese this weekend we would have had ordinations and so I looked up what you might call “job descriptions” for the ordained clergy. I looked at the liturgies used for ordination services and found that certain sentences stood out. In the service for the ordination of Deacons, for example, I found these words, ………..

“You are to reach into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible”.

That means reaching into the darkness and loneliness of sickness, depression, broken relationships, reaching into the places and towards the people who think that God is not for them, people who think that forgiveness is not for them, reaching out to people around us, people we might meet every day, people who are our neighbours.

“You are to reach into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible”.

I just gave you a line from the ordination of Deacons. The ordination or consecration of Bishops has this, ……….

“You are to seek out those who are lost and bring them home”.

And at the ordination of priests, we have this, ……….

“With all God’s people you are to tell the story of God’s love”.

With all God’s people!

So that is very definitely us too!

Next week the church will celebrate the Feast of Thomas the Apostle. I love Thomas, and we would do well to follow his example of discipleship; not because he doubted, but because he believed! He was not only normal in his reaction to Jesus’s life, death and resurrection, but he was able to ask just the right questions at the right time, and to make the right statements at the right time too, which have given us memorable events and sayings. When his doubts about the resurrection led him face to face with the risen Lord and he got to touch the wounds of Christ he made that very memorable acclamation,

“My Lord and my God”! One of the very few times in scripture when Jesus is actually referred to as God.

Thomas’s encounter with the risen Jesus is a reminder for us that we’re in good company when we recognise ourselves as doubting disciples. We (most of us here this morning) may not be called to ordination but we are, non the less, called to be disciples; to be people of God; to be his church.

Jesus called Thomas from his doubt to belief and from his belief to ministry, ministry to the poor, the lonely, the hurting. And we are called too, even though we may not think we are, to do the same, because we are the church.

We are called as all Bishops, Priests and Deacons are called to “tell the story of God’s love”.

When we go about in our villages quietly visiting the sick and the lonely, when we offer a friendly ear to someone who doesn’t see anyone all week, we’re telling the story of God’s love. When we go about in our communities simply being faithful members of our churches and followers of Jesus, we’re telling the story of God’s love. When we use the gifts he’s given us to soften the hearts of those around us, enabling people to receive the gift of faith, we’re telling the story of God’s love.

At this season of Peter-tide I should like us to ponder the words of what we call The Ordinal – the making of Deacons, Priests and Bishops.

“You are to reach into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible”.

“You are to seek out those who are lost and bring them home”.

“With all God’s people you are to tell the story of God’s love”.

I should like us all to ponder these words and remember that at our own baptism we were given the gift of faith.

And so, we must look forward and not back. We must get on with the job of being the disciples of Christ, for we know that, come what may, this is a story that’ll never end. So reach out into the forgotten corners, seek out the lost, and do tell the story of God’s love.

Ordinations are special opportunities which focus on the individuals God has called to specific ministries, but at these times we do well to remember the call that God has placed within each one of us. Not every ministry is public, obvious, or influential, but every ministry is part of God’s plan. Amen