On Sunday 13 June 2010 I was ordained as a minister of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Which probably leaves some readers wondering what I’ve been doing for the previous two years! Suffice to say that upon leaving College we were considered ‘on probation’ before making the lifelong commitment to serve the Church.
One part of the Ordination Service, which is formal yet satisfying, is the giving of an account of God’s call on the ordinand’s life. Here’s what I prepared (I don’t think I deviated too much from it!)…
I’ve always been a good boy 🙂 Raised in a loving home, my parents and the people of Craigmore Methodist Church fulfilled their baptismal vows to raise me in a Christian context. Aged 8, I made my first profession of faith at a Good News Club meeting. At 12, I committed my life to Jesus, determined to stand for him, at an event attended with our Youth Club leaders. By 17 I was the chairman of the Methody Christian Union, preparing for A-levels that would send me down the path of Law & Accounting at Queen’s University.
My Grannies had always said I’d make, “a great wee minister,” but I knew better. Even if accountancy didn’t work out, there was always the next best thing – driving trains!
However, God intervened and I ended up on Team On Mission #6, embarking on a gap year experience that gave me a love for the people of the Methodist Church in Ireland, a passion for communicating Jesus, a desire to help people meet God through music, and an understanding that my culinary skills were always going to be quite limited!
An important passage at that time was 2 Timothy 4, including the phrases, “Preach the word,” and “Do the work of an evangelist.” That year included two unrelated but meaningful incidents – one where I went to a prayer meeting asking God to refresh my youth leader, but instead it was I who had a soul-warming experience of the Holy Spirit. The other took place at a Christmas concert, when in the middle of a carol I almost audibly heard God say, “You’re going to be a Methodist minister.” That doesn’t happen every day!
The following decade was marked at its beginning by sitting in a car telling Kathryn that she ought to know I was probably going to be a Methodist minister – but that didn’t put her off! We dated for five years and have been married for almost nine, sharing together in ministry throughout. While I may be the one wearing the collar this evening, you are sending us jointly to lead God’s people, discern God’s voice and engage in God’s mission.
I am so blessed to have such a gracious companion for the journey, joined in mission now by our sons Timothy and Micah. I love you all very much.
I said at the beginning that I’ve always been a good boy. When preachers used the Prodigal Son story I always felt a bit for the elder son, and couldn’t identify with the prodigal. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise how much my life is surrounded by, and depends upon, God’s grace…
“What would I have become
if you’d never stopped to pull me through?
What would this life have done
if you’d never whispered liberty?
I heard you sing so sweetly a song of love.
Jesus, how sweet the name, the name that saves.
Jesus, how sweet the sound, the sound of grace.”
Today I stand before you as one convinced that he has heard God’s call to minister in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This part of our journey has begun with the warm, understanding and patient people of Dundrum, Newcastle and Downpatrick. Our home church of Craigmore, our families, DYCW and the Edgehill community, and our new friends in Newcastle have encouraged us at every step.
And though at times I may grow weary or lose heart, I know for certain that those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Notes: Song words from ‘How sweet the name’ by Delirious – and yes, I did sing it; End quotation from Isaiah 40:31 (NLT); Discover more about Team on Mission at www.irishmethodist.org/dycw; Oh, and did I mention we have number two son? Facebook and Twitter weren’t around when Timothy arrived so I announced it on this blog.