Thought for the Month June 2024 by Rev. Catharine Hughes

I begin with a confession: I have only been to one ordination service in my life – and that was last year, simply so I would have some idea about what would happen this year! Just twelve Presbyters were ordained then, all at Coventry Cathedral. This year there is double that – including me. Conference will be in Leeds, a place of familial heritage, with my ordination in Harrogate on Sunday 30 June. Though formal, it is a joyful occasion, with a resounding affirmation of the ordinands: ‘You are worthy!’

Here comes my second confession: I doubt my worthiness at every turn.  Like everyone, I could do better. Pray more, read the bible more, visit people more, shorten the meetings, remember all the things we need to discuss, get paperwork in on time, deliver profound and earth-shaking sermons, be a louder, clearer voice for those oppressed and at the margins of society, give more… Like all ministers, I cannot be all things to all people: I can only be me. It doesn’t stop guilt.

Thankfully I also see and feel the power of forgiveness. Over the past eighteen months you, as a church and as a circuit, have explained things patiently and repeatedly as I have learned on the job. I owe you an immense debt: thank you.

I don’t begin to pretend that I have it all sorted now! None of us is perfect, which is why during the ordination ceremony the cry that is made is not, ‘You’ve got it sorted!’, or ‘You’re the best yet!’, but ‘You are worthy!’ It is a shout of affirmation that the ordinands, despite all their faults and failings, are supported in their vocation to follow Christ.

Serving Christ requires repeated forgiveness, but it also brings immense joy and privilege. That is no different for me than for you. We do nothing alone. Together we can be worthy servants of our almighty, wonderful, loving, forgiving God.