Bishop Todd Townshend and Rev. Jordan Murray at the service of ordination on November 30, 2020
By Rev. Jordan Murray
I imagine my experience leading up to ordination to be like that of everyone else who has stepped into this moment. Each day brings its own set of conflicting emotions. Joy and trepidation. Excitement and fear. Worry about being prepared for the work, and whether you have the skills required to step into your call.
As an introvert, I spent a lot of time in my own head, and so I’d like to share a couple of observations of my own experience.
First of all, prayer is an incredible thing, evocative and efficacious, though often not in the ways we expect. I am, of course, aware that I’m preaching to the choir, but I think this realization bears endless repeating, for we easily allow the distractions of the world to pull us away from God. The apostle Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica is wisdom we need just as much today as it was so many centuries ago: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I remarked to Bishop Todd early on the day of my ordination how I felt a deep sense of being held in prayer as the time drew nearer. Perhaps only the second or third time in my life I have tangibly felt such a prayerful embrace. It is a profound thing to experience. I knew people were praying for me; they told me they prayed when I was present, and far away, and as others prayed for me, I prayed for them and for the other ordinands.
We can’t undervalue the importance of prayer. Pray often, and let those around you know that you are praying for them. The ability for prayer to connect us to God and to each other cannot be overstated, especially during the challenges that this year has brought. This is who we are, a people joined in prayer, rooted in Christ, humbled by grace. Let this be our grounding and our practice.
My second observation was the realization that my ministry of service began long ago. What a remarkable process this has been: the training, the education, the hands-on experience, the successes and the failures, and the patience I never knew I possessed. All of this heading toward a few moments, standing before God, hearing the body of Christ affirm my call and the Bishop laying hands on me, as I moved through a ritual that has been repeated for centuries.
As I write this, I still feel the overwhelming weight of that moment. Enrique, Susan and I may have been set aside for a particular role, like other clergy, but we did not begin serving Christ’s Church on November 30. Indeed, my ministry began the day I surrendered my life and circumstances, and invited God to be in control, allowing Him to determine where this world needed my gifts. I continue to surrender to this, over and over again.
All of us are called to ministry – right in the midst of our mundane, everyday lives, God has work for us, building bridges, caring for his world, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, loving all people. This holy work is our response to the Gospel call. Answering our individual calls to ministry requires saying yes, every day, as we commit again and again to a new life in Christ. Preparing for my own ordination reaffirmed that ministry isn’t something only clergy do: While some of us are called to specific roles, ministry is what we are all called to do, and who we are called to be; broken people, loved into community, called to the table of our Lord and then sent into the world to heal and to love. I offer these observations as one who has just begun and who began long ago, journeying as we all do, moving through the world, striving to love God and neighbour.
As we move through this time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child, born in our midst, I pray that we may all be given eyes to see, to discern our call, to offer loving service to each other in the name of the one who loves us beyond measure. I ask your continued prayers for myself and all clergy. Know that I will be praying for all the people of Huron, that when Christ comes, we will all be found in faithful love and service. I wish you a blessed Advent.
Rev. Jordan Murray is appointed as the Assistant Curate to the Rector, St. George’s, Owen Sound effective January 1, 2021 December 10, 2020