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The Vicar WritesJeremy Fletcher
Chaucer declared April, with its sweet showers, to be the month for pilgrimages. May is known, especially in catholic spirituality, as “Mary’s Month”. In 2019, and in Hampstead, June can be called the month of priesting.
It will be a joy to be among many at All Saints’ Edmonton on Saturday 22 June at 3 pm to welcome six new priests into the church of God, among them Ayla Lepine. On Sunday 23 June at 6 pm Mother Ayla will preside at Holy Communion for the first time here at Hampstead Parish Church. A First Mass is a milestone and never to be forgotten event, and I hope you will all be able to receive Ayla’s sacramental ministry in this way for the first time.
Tuesday 25 June is the 30th anniversary of my ordination as priest at Durham Cathedral. I have marked previous anniversaries quietly by simply going to Durham, but the opportunity to celebrate the priestly calling alongside Ayla is too good to miss, and I will be privileged if others can join me at 7.30 that evening.
On 25 June 1989 the preacher was my former college principal, the Revd Dr Anthony Thiselton. Tony remains one of the great theologians of our age, particularly in the area of the interpretation of texts, and I was privileged to continue to see him when we were both members of General Synod. In his sermon 30 years ago he spoke of the three “E S” phrases of the priest. Priests have “Equivocal Status”, are an “Embodied Sign”, and seek the “Empowering Spirit”.
The Equivocal Status of the priest relates, I take it, to the role of interceding for people to God and ministering God to people. Priests are edge dwellers, inhabiting the margins, drawing people to God and bringing the kingdom near to people. In this way priests are an Embodied Sign, not just representing the love and sacrifice of God to the world, but focussing the ministry of the whole people of God. And priests cannot do this except by the Empowering Spirit of God. Nor can any of us.
I hope you will be able to celebrate Ayla’s new ministry, and my thankfulness for thirty years. St Peter wrote that the whole people of God is a “royal priesthood”. In celebrating with Ayla and me you will not be setting us apart, but rejoicing that God calls us all to serve, proclaim, pray and love, to the glory of God, now and for ever.
PS: Many of the Friends of the Music heard my Desert Island Discs choices in May. Others have asked what they were – so here goes.
Lippy Kids (Build a Rocket Boys) Elbow
Spem in Alium: Thomas Tallis
Magnificat in G: Stanford
(Sung by Nick Fletcher)
O magnum mysterium: Lauridsen
Agnus dei (from Want Two) Rufus Wainwright
Life in Technicolour: Coldplay/John Hopkins
Prelude and Fugue in F minor (BWV 534): JS Bach
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
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