THE WORD “FORMATION” has been restored to common usage when speaking of persons preparing for, and functioning within, the Church’s ordained priesthood. I’m so glad. “Training” never quite cut the ice for me. Formation speaks of an ongoing being formed – a learning and a relearning, a shaping and a being shaped, forever, and “on the job”. Someone told me the other day that, being “a traditional Anglican” they “couldn’t bear change.” Bless them – they need formation, not training. I’m off with one of my colleagues tomorrow to a 24 hour conversation with theologian Martyn Percy – whose subject is to be The Future Shape of Ministry – Church, Challenge and Change in Contemporary Culture. Way to go!
And the ordained priesthood’s task is to celebrate and to point to the every-person-priesthood of “the Body of Christ” – all humankind, indeed every atom of God’s ongoing Creation. Today, as in the genesis of things, the Potter takes clay into the Divine hand moulding and shaping, breathing new life, and art into it. Here is the Mothering creativity of God. Changing, stretching, moulding, reshaping, demanding, growing, feeding, watering, healing – “from glory into glory”. Divine Parent, Divine Child, Divine Breath. Vivifying. A community of persons continually co-creating, in communion, one with another, in a self-giving perichoresis, or Divine dance. Round and around again. Circling, conversing, creating … in formation. Eucharistically. Thankfully.
And something of this takes place in stimulating microcosm when representatives of our community gather around a table, continually co-creating in communion, one with another, in a self-giving perichoresis, or Divine dance. Round and around again. Circling, conversing, creating … in formation. Eucharistically. Thankfully.
Tonight I’ve come away hugely energised from our perichoresis at table. We’ve been co-creating the shape of our Kaleidoscope Mass for Mothering Sunday. The circle – like ripples in a pond – will now reach out from our round table, inviting and calling others into the formation. Cinderella needn’t worry about whether or no she’ll receive an invitation to the Ball – for in the Divine formation she and we are already at the Ball. And we’ll all get the best out of it when, “made in the image of God”, we gladly offer – be we wallflower or show-off – a self-giving perichoresis, or Divine dance. Round and around again. Circling, conversing, creating … in formation. Eucharistically. Thankfully.
THANK YOU to the every-person-priesthood with whom I sat at round table tonight. Thank you for laughter and seriousness, for poetry and prose, for prayer and good practice. Your self-giving is a hugely valued part of our shared and ongoing formation. Shaping and being shaped – learning to be a Resurrection people, on earth as it is in heaven.