I’m getting ready in the next few days to go on retreat before my ordination to the priesthood. There is a certain familiarity about the whole thing since the administrative side is very similar to last year when I was ordained deacon. My parishioners are getting a coach to come and watch me be made into ‘a proper vicar’, presumably as opposed to the improper vicar they see now!
The question everyone seems to be asking is whether I’m excited. Am I? There is not nearly as much change to come as a result of this ordination as there was last year. In the last month I haven’t had to move house, or start a new job, or get to know hundreds of new people all at once. I won’t have a whole new uniform for work on Monday – the dog collar took quite some time to get used to. The service will be much as last year, but this time I will know many more of the people there. Colleagues I had just met last year have become friends this year. It will definitely be a special time, but excitement isn’t the word. Maybe anticipation.
The only really new thing is presiding at Eucharist. Excitement definitely isn’t the word there. Nervousness is, not fear, but definite nervousness. So many things to remember, so many movements to coordinate with words, so much potential for clumsiness. And I’ll be wearing a chasuble… a big, thick poncho-type thing over a cassock-alb, over normal clothes, in the middle of summer! If I get to the end without collapsing from heat exhaustion that will be a miracle. I’m dealing with this in my usual way – assuming that I will forget everything that isn’t written down, and so making very sure that it is written down. My print-out of the Eucharistic prayer has stick-figures drawn all over it. I had a run-through of the logistics with the head server yesterday. It was scary enough standing behind the altar and looking down at an empty building. Can’t imagine how it is going to be with a packed (I hope) Church. Thank God none of us do things like this alone.
One very strange thing is realising that the ordination is the fulfilment of a calling I heard five years ago. If God said then, “you are going to be a priest”, I wonder what he’ll say next.
I’m off to one of the local schools now to talk about Pentecost. This time last year that would have had me in a flat panic. Bodes well…