Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Prayer in a Time of Change

The Church Times is published in England. Founded in 1863, it is the world's leading Anglican newspaper. The following article by the Rev. Richard Lamey is from the June 26, 2009 issue.

Lord, take my heart and break it: break it not in the way I would like, but in the way you know to be best. And, because it is you who break it, I will not be afraid, for in your hands all is safe and I am safe. Lord, take my heart and give to it your joy, not in the ways I like, but in the ways you know are best, that your joy may be fulfilled in me. So, dear Lord, I am ready to be your deacon, ready to be your priest.
Archbishop Michael Ramsey (1904-1988)

THIS prayer by Archbishop Michael Ramsey was used with ordinands on the eve of their ordination. It is the climax of an ordination charge built on St Paul’s description of life as a disciple of Christ: “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6.10).
It is the perfect prayer for ordina­tion-eve. It is the perfect prayer for any time of change, of fresh chal­lenge, of moving deeper into God’s purpose. It says that serving God will not always be easy or smooth or com­fortable, but that it is the only way to be fully alive, fully human, fully our­selves.
For those about to be dea­coned, there is a real sense of standing on the cusp of something at once ex­citing and uncertain. It has been a long road to this moment, but now the ques­tions rush in. Am I ready? Will I be able to bear the expectations placed on me? How will it feel to wear a clerical collar? Will I still be me? How will I cope when I don’t know the words to say, the comfort to offer, or the chal­lenge to give?
Deacons about to be priested know perhaps a little more, and have begun to work out something of what it is to be called to this place in the life of the Church. Sometimes that brings only more questions.
All of us, at different times, face un­certainty and disorientation. All of us lose our landmarks, the things we take for granted. Illness, grief, be­trayal, and un­employment have that effect on each of us. So does the call to take a risk for God, to dare to love, to dare to be vulnerable.
We do not always know where God and experience will lead. But we do know that God promises to be with us in everything, redeeming what wounds us, and laughing with us when we re­joice.
This prayer reminds us that the Risen Christ is both Lord and scarred. We meet the God of our salvation. We put our trust in him. And we place our­selves at his disposal.
When self-image and laziness in­ter­rupt, we ask God to break us out of our selfishness. When we need en­couragement, we ask God to fill our hearts with unexpected joy.
Archbishop Ramsey says that, in everything — in brokenness and joy, in frustration and fulfilment — he will not fear because he knows that he is safe in the hands of God. This is the prayer and the confidence he offers to those he will ordain in the morning.
Here is a prayer for everyone facing fresh adventures for the gospel. It is a prayer for those coming to terms with tragedy, for those waiting for the light of Christ to dawn, for those who feel joy bubbling within them.
This is a prayer for everyone who would take the immense risk (which is no risk at all) of giving their heart and their life back to God. “In your hands all is safe, and I am safe.”

The Revd Richard Lamey is Priest-in Charge of Newton in Mottram and Rural Dean of Mottram, in the diocese of Chester.

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