Leader and servant
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! I have written a number of these reflections on the stages of our vacancy and selecting a new priest for our Benefice; now it is complete. We welcomed the Revd. Steve Godsell and his wife Debbie at a wonderful, joyful, service last Sunday when Steve was licensed by Bishop Robert and installed by Archdeacon Hilary. You will read more about Steve’s background elsewhere, but I want to reflect now on the significance of the priestly leadership we now have, in relation to the reading from Hebrews.
I suggest you start reading from chapter 7, verse 17: Thou are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. The significance of Melchizedek is that this was something new, untainted by the past (see also Genesis 14 and Psalm 110). The reading goes on to make clear that Jesus became the true high priest, unstained and sinless, replacing forever the fallible Jewish high priests. Today, our priests in the Christian church are ordained by bishops, in in a line of succession from St Peter, who was appointed as head of his Church by Christ himself. So, although Revd. Steve would probably be the first to admit he is not infallible, he is our priest, appointed to represent Christ among us. He is a new beginning for us.
I was led to think about all this by some conversations I had after the service. I knew one of Steve’s previous parishioners, who told me she was a bit overwhelmed by the Anglican clerical hierarchy on display in the service. I was also asked if our coloured hoods show our seniority (they don’t). I realized that we need to be careful here. Our priest represents Christ among us, as head of his Church, but don’t expect him to do everything! As Archdeacon Hilary pointed out, even Christ sent 70 people to do his work. Hierarchy is not the issue, but a spirit of service is. We are all ministers of the Word, but we all have different jobs, and we are all servants of the servants of God.
Steve Chandler - Reader
Our new Priest-in-Charge
Berkeley Benefice St Mary's - Berkeley
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