To be a Christian Priest who heads up a church or any other Christian organization today means a dual reliance on the Holy Spirit and those with whom you work and minister. It means dealing with the nitty-gritty of real human life at its most glorious and its most tragic, its most mundane and its most testing. It is both the greatest gift and the most onerous responsibility. It calls on the depths of the soul, and the heights of the spirit. Shepherding Christ’s flock involves most everything a human being has to hand, every skill and every intuitive gift that you possess. As the years go by you may bring with you all the experience of years of service and wisdom, but you soon discover that each new encounter means not just drawing on the past but upon the reliance of the living spirit of Christ, for without that daily encounter your ministry will soon become hollow and empty.
The late Michael Ramsay who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1966 until 1974 wrote the stunningly insightful, The Christian Priest Today and he said about his own ministry, “People ask me, sometimes, if I am in good heart about being Archbishop … My answer is ‘Yes’ … But the phrase ‘in good heart’, gives me pause, because after all, we are here as a church to represent Christ crucified and the compassion of Christ crucified before the world. And, because that is so, it may be the will of God that our church should have its heart broken and perhaps the heart of its Archbishop broken with it.”
I have found these words echo the great truths of a priest and a man who knew the truth, and indeed they can be translated not only to the priest but also to the Christian people who make up the congregation. We as a church are standing on the cusp of the great tragedy of Covid and we are witnessing the most mighty countries being brought to their knees through this pandemic, as we all seek an inoculation to protect us from this vile infection. Our Job as Christian communities is to stand with those whose hearts have been broken and to affirm those who are fearful and yet to hold onto the strength that is of Christ which rises high above all human endeavour and yet returns to strengthen and enrich it like a golden thread with goodness and love.
Fr. Ron Corne.