This is the new Bishop of Grimsby on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday.
It is the first time I’ve been to such a service. A colleague told me that he avoids them because he fears the Gilbert & Sullivan display temptations of the Church of England will dominate – and there were elements of that from the inter-winding of almost rival processions to the reading out of the Queen’s ‘special grace’ (i.e. unilateral authority) that we should go ahead.
My abiding memory will simply, I’m afraid, be the heat and the chattering clergy; one of the more elderly robed clergy in the row in front of me had to be taken out and all around there was the sort of friendly gossip going on even during the distribution of Communion for which members of any junior choir would have been reproved.
A highlight was the readings and the sermon.
The most recent ordination I attended was on St Peter’s Day so we got the repeated message that the apostle was the rock on which the church is built and the possessor of the keys of the Kingdom of God, and the preacher managed to get so highjacked by her own illustration of Downton Abbey that she ended up saying that deacons are like the footmen and priests like the butlers but it doesn’t matter provided they served the Master well rather than working out the implications of the Master choosing to be a servant.
This service was on St James’ Day so we were told instead that what is of God in us is deliberately placed in poor breakable vessels lest anyone make the mistake of thinking it is our skill which is decisive, and the preacher began imagining what a first feast a hierarchy-hungry church would have had had if James and John’s mother been granted her wish that they be given the senior positions in that Kingdom.