Four new Readers were commissioned on October 18 for service in the Diocese of Connor.
The Commissioning Service took place in St Colman’s, Dunmurry, and a large congregation of family, friends and parishioners turned up to support the candidates.
The four were commissioned by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy. The rector of St Colman’s, the Rev Denise Acheson, preached the sermon, extracts of which can be read below.
Those commissioned were: Louise Bowes from Mallusk; Heather Cooke from Mallusk; Janet Spence from St Luke & St Stephen, Belfast; and John Williams from Dunmurry.
As part of their training, they will each spend a year in a parish other than their home parish, receiving further practical training – Louise in Mossley, Heather in Carrickfergus, Janet in Jordanstown and John in Magheragall.
Extracts from a sermon by the Rev Denise Acheson, at the commissioning of Diocesan Readers, St Colman’s, Dunmurry, on October 18 2011.
Tonight we have four people taking another step along their faith journey.
A very public step
A very considered step
Possibly a surprising step
Maybe a step of trepidation
But in that mix I hope there is joy
But it is not only people like Louise, Heather, Janet and John that are called to step forward in faith.
All of us who follow Jesus are called to be on a continual journey of searching and discovering – moving towards a growing, deepening, richer faith.
One of the great mysteries of life is how God picks out would be preachers.
They are not always the most articulate
They may not be the most confident
They may not have much life experience
They may be bit past it
They may be a bit wet behind the ears
They haven’t always been holy Joes
God often chooses the least obvious.
Indeed, when you sit in the pew and listen to some preachers you may say to yourself
Politely of course
I could do better than that
The people he uses are people like all the above but who, like Mary say,
Yes Lord, just as you say
God doesn’t ask for an all singing all dancing entertainer to speak for him.
He asks for one who will be faithful
Let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully
What a commission!
A commission that no one dare take on themselves unless called and equipped by God himself.
But even then it is still a task we should approach with
Fear and trepidation
Joy and excitement
Caution and courage
Reverence and confidence
Because the power lies not in us
but in the power of God’s Spirit
to use these words to change lives and communities for his glory.
Is my word not like a fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.?
As we open Scripture do not proceed without God given, Spirit led wisdom
A wisdom that will come from reading scripture
Praying with scripture
Wrestling with scripture
Listening to Scripture
Engaging with Scripture
Being silent before scripture
Continually asking the Holy Spirit to help us interpret scripture then, maybe, God will give us something to share with others.
If were given an object of great worth and beauty we would handle it with extreme caution, care, precision and tenderness.
Let us not treat God’s word any less carefully
What God has to say to us prepares us and equips us to live in this world.
It gives us a holy confidence that enables us to be Christ’s light bearers in a dark world.
To remain light bearers we need to put on spiritual protection
God has promised us the gift faith and love and the hope of salvation.
and through Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians’
God tells us not to go it alone
We are here for each other
Rejoice with each other
Pray with each other
Give thanks with each other
And do not quench the Spirit
When we resist the life giving energy of the Spirit of Christ
We cease to grow
The process of becoming more like Christ is stalled
And our light grows dim…
Louise, Heather, Janet and John you have been called to one of the most exciting, fearful and awesome tasks.’