Sitting in my RE lesson at St Andrew’s C of E Primary School, Maghull, I remember my teacher, Deaconess Margaret asking my 10 year old self a question ‘Sarah what would like to do when we were older?” I replied ‘ A missionary’.
That was the start of the ‘Summons’, a call to follow Jesus and serve others. It’s amazing to look back at that moment over 30 years ago and think it would lead to this Sunday when I will be instituted as the next Vicar Of Christ Church Aughton. With this in mind I hope you will allow this contemplation to be more of a personal reflection as I mark this special occasion and write my last curate’s contemplation.
When I was younger I always thought I would be a missionary in Africa, but God had another plan, it would seem that my mission field would be the community of Aughton. The service on Sunday will mark the beginning of my new ministry as I transition from curate to Vicar. As well as the legal ceremony the service will also be an Act of Worship as we come together and offer our parish and community to God. Contemplating this wonderful occasion and the shared responsibility that I will be given to proclaim the Gospel and serve people in the community fills me joy.
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus call people to ‘follow him’, whether it was the Galilean fishermen who left their nets to become ‘fishers of people’, or his disciples who were encouraged to ‘take up their cross’. We read in Matthew 16:24-25
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Through the centuries, as today, Christ continues to call people to a life of faith, prayer and service. For me it is summed up beautifully in the hymn written by John Bell and Graham Maule from the Iona community entitled “Will you come and follow me’ – The Summons. For me following a call is a way of living that involves taking up the cross and to ‘risk the hostile stare’. It is a call to love in action which liberates the captive and blind and which dares to ‘kiss the leper clean’. It is a summons, too, to self-discovery and to the faith that can conquer our inner fears. The hymn ends with a prayer for strength to follow and ‘never be the same’. For in responding to Christ’s call to love in action we move and live and grow in him and he in us.
So that’s my prayer for this coming Sunday as I close the chapter of being a curate and start a new beginning as vicar. The service will be mark a very special day in my own personal faith journey, but it will also be a visible sign of what happened inwardly a long time ago when I first answered that call.
I know many people will be coming to celebrate with us on Sunday, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all those who haven the time to invest in me, to inspire and nurture my faith. The ones who have laughed, cried, challenged, mentored and encouraged me over the years, to each of those people I am extremely grateful. I also want this contemplation to be an encouragement to anyone who is unsure about what God might be calling you to. As you read the words below, answer the call, step out one footstep at a time, trust in God and enjoy the journey!
Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
in you and you in me.