Last night (confession time…) I was watching XFactor. There was one bit in particular that grabbed me. It was Gary Barlow telling Kingsland Road whether or not they were through to the next round of the competition.
Now, before you read any further, it’s probably worth just having a quick look at the video (you may not be able to access it if you’re not in the UK, so just read on and you’ll probably get the idea anyway). Basically, it starts with the band saying how heartbreaking it will be if they don’t get through, and how everything boils down to this moment. Then they’re all lined up waiting to hear their ‘fate’, and Gary says things like, ‘this is the worst bit…’ and, ‘it’s a big decision’, and ‘it does make me think of [the rest of Take That] … it’s where you guys are at right now’, and, ‘there’s quite a lot of work to do on you guys’, ‘there was [sic] people who sang better than you … they sounded better, that’s my issue’. Then…
‘I’ve made my decision …’ (long pause…) ‘Guys, you’re going through to the live shows.’ Cue screams, tears, pile-on, sobbing gratitude and a lot of jumping around.
And I chuckled, because, for some reason, at that precise moment, I thought about ordination. And I wondered if maybe it was a bit like that … keen potential ordinands lined up in front of the bishop. Bishop makes a few general comments, some negative, some positive. Ordinands are kept guessing momentarily … then … ‘guys, you’re recommended for training’. And the ordinands (in my mind) start jumping around, crying, hugging the bishop and thanking him profusely (perhaps kissing the ecclesiastical ring would be appropriate at this point). Or, horror of horrors, they hear the words, ‘you’re not recommended for training’. And at this point, they fall to their knees. Quiet weeping follows.
It’s funny, though, isn’t it? The latter of those probably would happen, but possibly not the former. If we go for ordination and are told ‘no’, or ‘not yet’, I wonder if the negative emotions are stronger than the positive ones we would feel when we’re given the green light. We don’t dance around and cry and have an impromptu pile-on (which the bishop may or may not indulge in).
Is a calling to ordination not more exciting than progression through to the next round of a singing competition? Is the opportunity (and challenge!) to walk with people as they do life with all its heady highs and gut-wrencing lows not an absolutely mighty calling? Is the desire to do battle with evil in the heavenly and earthly realms not something which should engage our emotions? Is the chance to be shepherd to sheep as we follow the pattern of our Lord not at once both the most high and the most humble calling?
Of course, ordination is not the only means through which these things can be achieved, but I spent the next few minutes of XFactor pondering whether we’ve lost some of the wonder and excitement that comes with a invitation to serve God in this way.
Maybe, one day, I’ll find out… 🙂 Watch this space.