Dear Ruth,

Tomorrow you will enter ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada.

As you stand on the threshold of ordination, I have just completed thirty-eight years of ordained ministry. We are at different places in our journey.

After all my years of intense involvement in the church, I find myself deeply touched that you have experienced God’s call to commit your life in service to Christ in the particular community of faith we call the Anglican Church.

I expect that tomorrow in the midst of the intensity and pageantry of the ordination, it will be difficult to pay close attention to the words of the service. But, I hope that one phrase may ring in your ears and continue to resonate in your heart over the years.

Near the end of the prayer the Bishop will pray as he lays hands on your head, he will ask God that you may be

rooted and grounded in love, and may continue strong and steadfast in Jesus Christ our Lord

Before anything else this is the call into which you are ordained. You are ordained to live a life that is “rooted and grounded in love,” and to “continue strong and steadfast in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus is reported in John’s Gospel to have said,

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)

To be ordained is to be a sign to all people that the purpose, meaning and fulfillment of life are found in love.

Love is our path; it is the way we were created to be; it is the power that sustains us wherever our journey may lead; it is the goal and vehicle of all ministry. This love dwells in our hearts; we find it as we heed the call to open and soften to the beauty and truth that dwell at the centre of all life.

You will fail to fulfill the fundamental purpose of your ordination if you lose touch with this first call. Jesus also said,

apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

All your hard work, great programs, plans, strategies, creativity, and visions will amount to “nothing” if they do not start from and lead to this central place of love that Jesus embodied and in which you are called to abide.

Everything needs to flow from this central place where you know that you are connected to this great current, this deep stream that flowed so powerfully in and through the person of Jesus.

For the well-being of your own soul, for the well-being of your beautiful little family, for the well-being of the church in which you are being ordained, please do not confuse work in the church with the primary function for which you are ordained. Try to stay clear. You are being ordained to be a sacrament of love, a sign of beauty through the church. You are being ordained to be a stained glass window through which others may see refracted the beauty and light of Christ.

You commit yourself tomorrow to being a means by which people are supported in opening, in whatever way is authentic for them, to the call to which you have responded to live more deeply in the flow of life and love.

Your first responsibility is to live in alignment with that abiding presence of goodness, truth and beauty that is your true nature. When you keep this central call in place, everything else will flow from this well-spring of life.

After thirty-eight years in ordained ministry, this vision still burns brightly in my heart.

Tomorrow is just one more act of surrender to the voice that has called you to this place. I pray that you may trust more deeply each day the love into which you are being ordained and which can sustain you for many years as an instrument of God’s love and truth.

God bless you Ruth,

Christopher