Today, St Peter and the Holy Rood in Thurso was packed with people from Caithness, from across our Diocese, from elsewhere in Scotland, from England and from even further afield.
So many people gave of themselves to make Ellie’s ordination as Priest a splendid occasion: stunning flowers, splendid music and singing, generous welcome, sumptuous food and drink, fine preaching, and efficient choreography of a large number of servers, visiting clergy, and so on. So much planning and preparation by members of the congregations, so much planning and preparation by the Bishop and his chaplain, so much planning and travelling by the people from many areas of the life of our church, our community and Ellie’s family, friends and colleagues past and present.
But what was it all about? Obviously it was a significant event in the life of these congregations, who haven’t seen an ordination in either of their buildings for quite a while. It was a significant event in the life of the diocese which has nurtured Ellie’s vocation over the past five or six years. It was a significant event for Ellie’s family who were all assembled in a way that perhaps they rarely manage. And it was a significant event for Ellie herself after a period of years of journeying. But more importantly than all of these, it was an act of praise, worship and thanksgiving to God for his goodness to us, his work amongst us and our witness of that to each other.
That was the real focus. What it was not about was any individual, no matter what their role in the proceedings or in the Church more generally being any more important than any other. Everyone who was involved in the planning, in the preparation, as a guest or with a particular role to perform in the service or the celebrations afterwards, came to that service (as to the one in Inverness Cathedral last week) as an individual – a son or daughter of God. Each with a story of their own, each with their own sorrows and pain, each with their own hopes and joys. In that we are all equal and equally valued by God as beloved children.