XFactor and ordination.

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.

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5 Responses to XFactor and ordination.

  1. dorothy726 says:

    aren’t we all called to do all of that? to walk with people as they do life with all its heady highs and gut-wrencing lows? To do battle with evil in the heavenly and earthly realms? To be shepherd to sheep as we follow the pattern of our Lord?
    Surely not just those who wear a dog-collar… or am I missing something here?
    and absolutely I agree about it being an awesome thing to be called (as I beleive we all are) to that kind of living.

    • nickparish says:

      Sorry, my fault. The final chunk probably wasn’t very clearly expressed. Yes, we are all absolutely called to that as a way of life; ordination doesnt have a monopoly on ministry. But I was thinking, for the first bit of the post, of those who feel called to do this exclusively, in some sort of full-time church ministry role. Sorry – clumsy explanations, even now 🙂

  2. dorothy726 says:

    🙂 thank you for that. I do rather struggle when I read blog posts etc by ordinands/clergy which seem to imply that they alone “walk with people as they do life with all its heady highs and gut-wrencing lows” and “do battle with evil in the heavenly and earthly realms” and are “shepherd to sheep as we follow the pattern of our Lord”. I love your phraseology, it’s just that those words really do describe pretty accurately the day-to-day pattern of my life “but” I’m just an “ordinary lay person”, to quote my vicar! (to be fair, those words were in a particular context in a private email exchange regarding rules and regulations and in reality he is 110% supportive of me in my “hidden” ministry).
    It used not to bother me when clergy and other “professional ministers” spoke in those terms. It’s only bugged me recently, since I’ve landed up in a very high church where most of the old-stagers put the poor vicar on a pedestal and firmly believe that his prayers/accompanying/battling is far superior to anything anyone else does or can do. “Father knows best”… and I suspect I’ve become over-sensitive to _professionals_ apparently buying in to that myth which actually serves to disempower the laity. Who are never “but” and never “ordinary” but need to realise their full potential in Christ.

    And I will indeed “watch this space” and wish you every blessing in seeking to discern your own calling. 🙂

    • nickparish says:

      I love it when people (and I can’t think of a way of saying this without it coming out sounding patronising, but that’s not my intention; I just genuinely love it!) realise and teach others that we’re *all* called to this life. I guess I was just pondering as I watched the X Factor hopefuls whether those of us who consider/go through ordination genuinely ‘get’ the extraordinary nature and joy of that particular call. On the flip side, I don’t suppose the X Factor folks really get any sense of the burden that their hopes carry with them, and this, too, is true of those called to full-time ministry. Brings to mind Paul’s comment, ‘Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.’

  3. I love to sing and make up songs in my head.

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