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Monday, 1 June 2015

Ruby memories!

As mentioned, last week, it was exactly forty years ago, on this date (it was a Sunday in 1975!), that I was Ordained to the Holy Ministry of Word and Sacrament, in Gilmerton Parish Church, Edinburgh, by the Rt Rev The Presbytery of Edinburgh, the Very Rev Dr Leonard Small, CQH, being the Moderator of the Presbytery.

There were, as one would expect, a number of questions asked of me, by Dr Small. One, however, has stuck in my mind over all of those years.  The question was:

"Are not zeal for the glory of God, love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and a desire for the salvation of all people, as far as you know your own heart, your great motives, and chief inducements to enter into the office of the Holy Ministry?"   To that question, I responded: "They are".

In my mind's eye, I can still see Dr Small standing in front of me.  Indeed, I can still hear his distinctive voice in my mind!  When he came to that question in particular, he looked me straight in the eye and I can assure you, I sensed that if I had been the least bit false in my response, he would have had the discernment to denounce me, there and then!

So, apart from suffering a severe dose of unadulterated nostalgia, why would I want to share all of that on my blog?  Simply because I believe that, whether entering the ordained, pastoral, ministry or not, those first three parts of the question are ones that every disciple of Jesus should be able to answer in a positive fashion!

"Zeal for the glory of God"  The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: "What is the chief end (prime purpose) of man?"  The given answer to that question is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever."   So, the first responsibility of human beings is to bring glory to God.  To do so with zeal is to do so with conviction, and passion, and enthusiasm.  I wonder, if you are a disciple of Jesus, do you serve the Lord in such a way?  It's a good "self-examination" question!

"Love to the Lord Jesus Christ"  Remembering that Jesus is the Second Persona of the Trinity, we may note His own response to a lawyer who asked Him: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" (Matt 22:36; inter al).  That response was: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." (Matt 22:37-38).  His love for you, and for me, is beyond our human comprehension - but we may love Him with all that we have, and are, in gratitude for all that He is, and does.

"A desire for the salvation of all people."  It was Amy Carmichael, founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship in South India, who had a dream (check: that led her into her life's work.  Under her direction, Dohhnavur was transformed into a sanctuary for over one thousand children who would otherwise have faced a bleak future. She often said that her Ministry of rescuing temple children started with a girl named Preena. Having become a temple servant (i.e. prostitute) against her wishes, Preena managed to escape. Amy provided her with shelter, and withstood the threats of those who insisted that the girl be returned either to the temple directly to continue her sexual assignments, or to her family for more indirect return to the temple. The number of such incidents soon grew, thus beginning Amy's new ministry. When the children were asked what drew them to her, they usually replied: "It's love. Amma (Amy) loves us."  We may not all be called to the kind of service to which Amy Carmichael devoted her life but, if we are true disciples of Jesus, we should certainly have a similar love for people, and a desire for their salvation - even if it means sacrifice on our part!

Forty years! It's a long time.  How I have really maintained my Ordination vows is for the Lord to judge.  But I trust that I have, in some measure, shown that my response to that particular question was true.  Can you say the same thing?!

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