Well – it’s all real now.
While the journey is by no means ending on the 1st July, it is a significant milestone, and many would hold that I will be something different after the Bishop has laid hands on me (the posh phrase is an “ontological change”) – and again when I am priested in 2018, God willing.
I personally find it unhelpful to set clergy too far apart from non-ordained people, after all I will remain a member of laity, like all other baptised believers. On the other hand, there is a sense of being set apart, and that something does change on ordination – if it didn’t then why would we bother? I have never (yet?) come up with a satisfactory answer of “why” I should be ordained, but I’ve come to think that it’s not actually the important question. The important question is whether or not God is calling me (or you) to this slightly odd role/ministry/state of being, and I have to say that I feel, along with those who know me best and the wider church, the answer is “yes” for me.
Of course, the truth is we are all changing all the time. I am firmly of the opinion that Jesus calls ALL of us to a life of discipleship – which means always learning, growing, striving to more like Him. This isn’t to say that anything we do can make us any more loved (or less loved) by God, but if we are loved by God, and love Him in return, then we live our lives on a different page from the world around us, and that doesn’t always (often!) come naturally or easily.
I have found the last 3 years (ish) of theological education very hard work, but there is no doubt in my mind that I now look at the world in a different way. I think differently about the Bible and God, about Mission, about Jesus and His ministry. My understanding of Church has developed and deepened, and my outlook on life is perhaps more nuanced then it used to be. Fundamentally my faith hasn’t changed, but I have been stretched and deepened, often in uncomfortable ways!! I’m looking forward to sharing some of this with my new congregation, and learning from them in turn. I’m excited about what lies ahead for us as a family. And my hope and prayer is that God will continue to guide us all in his mysterious, but good, ways.