St Aubyn’s 4th July 2019
Readings – Ephesians 4:1-16; Luke 10:1-12
On Easter Sunday 1989 a painfully shy language student was sitting on a log in a forest somewhere in South-Eastern Austria. He had been working as a language assistant in a local school during his year abroad and the whole experience was enough to convince him he didn’t want to be a teacher. So what to do after leaving university? As he sat and thought and prayed, he began to have the sense God might possibly be calling him to be a vicar, whatever that meant.
So later that year he chatted with the curate at his local church in Cambridge and ended up shadowing a vicar for a week in Tooting. The vicar there was completely overworked and the parish he served was enormous, but by the end of the week this was what I knew I was called to become.
But so far I had no experience of life outside education, and little understanding of what made people tick. I needed to have some experience of the real world, so to cut a long story short, I trained and qualified as a chartered accountant, specialising in the accounts of used car dealers. I certainly learnt a lot about human nature along the way!
However, there eventually came a time when I had to test out my initial calling. I was by that stage married with a family on the way, and I had to decide whether to stay with my day job or not. So I went through the selection process of the Church of England, and much to my surprise I was selected for ordination training and finally ordained deacon on 4 July 1999.
There’s much more that could be said about my ten year journey from a wood in Austria to a service in Chelmsford cathedral, and I would be glad to field questions later. So much happened in that decade and there were so many changes, most, but not all of them positive. But all the way through there was one passage of Scripture that kept guiding me, and helped me discern my sense of calling, and it was this passage from Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 1-16.
Now although there is a lot going on in his reading, at its heart is a simple and essential truth, that Jesus has risen and ascended as king. He sits in the place of honour at the Father’s right hand as Lord of heaven and earth. That not only means that He reigns over all, but that He gives gifts of grace to all who believe and trust in Him. So one way or another, all of us need to work out what those gifts might be.
In my case I embarked on a ten year journey of exploration that led to ordination, and I don’t expect any of you have a story like mine. But Paul tells us in verse 7: to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. And if it is true, that the risen Lord Jesus has given to every single one of us some particular gift then it stands to reason we find out what gift we have received. Because, as we shall see, it is as each and every person uses their gifts that the church grows and matures in a way that honours and glorifies the Lord. Read the rest of this entry »