Friday, December 1, 2017

Priesthood - an anniversary

Today is the 60th anniversary of my father, Brian Carrell's ordination to the priesthood on 1 December 1957. In the low church tradition of our family there will be no special service to mark this anniversary. But we are noting it. It is a milestone. It has got me thinking about what might be noteworthy about such an anniversary, even within a tradition which takes great care about singling out such milestones lest an unwarranted distinction between clergy and laity within the priesthood of all believers widens further. Many friends and family have ministered in the church for those 60 years, not least my mother May Carrell, and more. And mostly not much is made of lay anniversaries for ministry. Occasionally I hear people note the years (say) since their confirmation.

Here is what I think is noteworthy about today's anniversary, even within a low church tradition.

It is 60 years of living life in a particular ordering through being available. To God, open to being placed where God and the bishop see fit, and to church and to community as priest - exercising roles of presbyter/elder, pastor, preacher and presider. In that ordered life there are responsibilities and privileges which are different to those of lay ministers of the church. Some of those responsibilities, for instance, are quietly significant and burdensome - by "quietly" I mean that as presbyters-and-pastors there are many instances in which confessions and confidences are received which few know anything about; difficult questions are asked by individuals which in the nature of the question cannot be widely shared in order to arrive at a wise and (because it is asked of an officer of the church) responsible answer for which the priest may later be held accountable according to the discipline of the church.

Secondly, in the priestly ordering of life, a priest is always accountable to an authority - to one's bishop, the local synod and the General Synod. Sixty years, in this case, of taking care to observe rules and regulations - more of which apply to clergy as officers of the church than to lay officers - to honour the church rather than to bring it into disrepute, and to respect the bishop, no matter what one thinks privately of the latest episcopal missive or appointment just announced.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter, for your post. And may God continue to bless your father, and through him, many others. I have always appreciated your dad's ministry and contributions.
[Without wanting to detract from your points - I also celebrate the anniversary of my baptism, and regularly encourage others to do so].

Father Ron Smith said...

Congratulations to your Dad, Bishop Brian Carrell, Peter, on his 60th anniversary of Ordination. His years spent in the mission field in one of the signs of his calling. May God continue to bless him, you, and your family.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you for kind comments Bosco and Ron.
For clarity, Ron, Dad's "mission field" was always NZ or NZ-based - his role with NZCMS in the period 1971-82 was as its General Secretary and based here in Christchurch.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter; re your Dad's service in thre 'Mission field'. Perhaps the following quote might be appropriate: "Whether here or there, we belong to The Lord. Blessed be the Name of the Lord" (c.f. Saint Paul). There is only one Christian Message & Mission.

Bryden Black said...

Well Peter; high or low, broad or spikey - whatever! May your celebrations be fulsome! I'm reminded of something a Rabbi once said to me: You know, when we meet our Creator, he will ask us just one question - did you enjoy my world? May your family enjoy this milestone, just as much as our Father enjoys Brian!

Anonymous said...

Blessings to your father and the woman at his side. Two people who meant a lot to me in my walk with Christ. Wonderful people.
Lisa Malmqvist former Johnson
now Sweden

Love them to bits

Anonymous said...

"In the low church tradition of our family there will be no special service to mark this anniversary."

"And mostly not much is made of lay anniversaries for ministry. Occasionally I hear people note the years (say) since their confirmation."

Does the use of the blessed isles provide for commemorations within the community's central act of worship?


Peter Carrell said...

There is no specific rubric, Bowman, but that means there is no rubric prohibiting the addition of such celebrations to central acts of worship.

Anonymous said...

I think, Bowman, our church is more explicit than Peter is allowing for. In The Worship Template, passed by General Synod in 2002, there is explicitly:

"non verbal, symbolic actions involving candles, images, greenery, water etc

sacramental actions such as a blessing and breaking bread, anointing, blessing of places, baptizing, making and renewing of vows, hura kohatu, tuku and last rites"



Father Ron Smith said...

re Bosco's comment. But not yet S/S/Blessings.

Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

Your post of Dec.7th @3.28pm,shows to me true Christian "charity and grace";by the moderator, to allow the obsession of your blogs to invade their family occasion.Can't an old priest enjoy the celebration of 60 years in God's service, without it becoming an opportunity for you to push your agenda.

I did not know Peter's dad and can only say:"May God prosper and bless him for all his days". Peter,may I remind you of Solomon's words:"My son,hear the instruction of thy father and forsake not the law of thy mother.For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head and chains about thy neck".
"For I was my father's son,tender and only beloved in the sight of of my mother." God bless your family.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, if I may, I would like to make a specific comment on 'priesthood' in its very broadest conception (no pun intended) on this day of the Roman Catholic Feast of the 'Immaculate Conception of the BVM". Today, I posted on the website of one of your side-bar listed (Anglican) links the following:

"In my limited understanding of such things; to my mind, the attribution of 'Immaculate Conception' should properly be applied - not to the conception of Mary herself, but to that of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, in her womb.

This would then allow Mary to be 'fully human' - without compromising the 'full humanity of Jesus' in which He was able to undertake our redemption as both Son of God and yet fully human.

That seems, to me at least, more like the economy of God.

If human priesthood is demonstrated by the 'bringing forth of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist'; then Mary's participation in 'bringing forth' the bodily Presence of Jesus in her womb was nothing less than priestly.

Bryden Black said...

"If human priesthood is demonstrated by the 'bringing forth of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist'; then ..." (Ron) Well Ron, you can hardly expect such a supposed ‘staunch Prot’ as I to remain silent when you say this!

I have always been rather puzzled by those who think this is the essence of ministerial priesthood. For if that is the case (my conditional), then why on earth are you an Anglican rather than a Roman Catholic? For such views are certainly not traditionally Anglican ones; they were only smuggled in during the Oxford Movement of the 19th century! Of course, you like to believe such things, Ron. But where's the actual biblical warrant?

As for the extrapolated analogy with Mary. I'd simply stick instead with Luke 8 and how the parable of the sower gets written up by him, compared to the way Mark presents the story. Mark 3 has the family go to get Jesus, with the Beelzebub incident sandwiched in between, 3:21 & 31ff. Only then do we have the parable of the sower, ch.4. Luke on the other hand wants to make a different point. There the business of family and notably Mary is the climax of the parable of the sower, 8:19-21, with nothing about Mark’s view of the family’s attitude at all. The delicious irony of course is that Mary does both - literally! Just so, 1:38, and see too 11:27-8.

And so it is the word which drives all of this, not some ‘extra NT notion’ of ‘priesthood’. True; there is still the res of the sacrament to consider, given Anglicanism’s ordained twin ministry of word + sacrament . And since you've constantly ducked that question, I'll offer this instead. Certainly, it’s not a case of Zwingli’s ‘empty sign’. Yet on the other hand, nor does an Augustinian dualism quite address the problem either, despite its venerable tradition. My ch.8 of LDL clearly presents the solid evidence for such a claim. So finally; a biblical res would be as the summary diagram of my God’s Address—Living with the Triune God puts it (amplified in Session 5, “Abiding in the Rule of God’s Life”): “Do this to Remember Me - New Passover rite celebrating koinonia in the Mediator of the New Exodus and the New Covenant, in the midst of the New Temple.”

Here the focus has shifted from “the bread of affliction which our forefathers ate” (as per the Passover haggadah) to “the new eschatological manna from heaven” (as frequently spoken of and expected among Jews of NT times). The crux (pun!) is furthermore that this “eschatological manna from heaven” is “the true bread from heaven”, which Jesus gives as his “flesh for the life of the world”, since “the cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?” “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (John 6:35-63,10:16-17). Just so, this rite “proclaims his death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). [NB the language of John’s menein does exactly what Paul’s koinonia achieves.] And so there is quite simply no need for the gymnastics of either transubstantiation or the dualism of an Augustinian sacramental universe (outward signs of ‘spiritual’ graces), since the triune God has already established himself the divine mediatorial field in the economy by means of his own Incarnation and Pentecost.

Down the centuries, the Church has alas got itself into unnecessary contortions both regarding its ministries and its ministrations. True; it was a real question to be addressed: how is grace communicated? Yet this very question gets posed from within a faulty framework. So that more thoroughgoing exploration of the history of liturgy and its theology, plus more fulsome biblical scholarship (of the likes of Brant Pitre, Jesus and the Last Supper, Eerdmans, 2015) offers a genuine way forward. But then perhaps the evidence is upsetting to our prejudices ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Ah well, Bryden, your offence taken at my invocation of the Christ-bearing of the BVM as an authentic type of affective priesthood - which I have reiterated on 'Thinking Anglicans' recently and on 'Liturgy' - gives proof positive of your classical proto-Protestant philosophy.

I can only say that this - again, lengthy - protest on your part just goes to show the gulf between us. Perhaps, if you had 'sat at the feet' of ++Rowan Williams a bit longer at the time of your formation, you might have absorbed something of his profound Marian scholarship, and turned out differently. He, too, is a product of the Oxford Movement enlightenment re the sacramental efficacy of the ministerial priesthood, which still survives in many places in the Anglican Communion - sadly riven as it is by differing understandings about women priests.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron and Bryden
Fascinating though your dialogue/debate is, it is not particularly relevant to the original post, which did not raise the question of priestly sacramental ministry.
Perhaps we can resurrect the dialogue on another occasion on another thread.

Bryden Black said...

Sure thing Peter! It's alien to your father's celebration anyway ... FIN