Last Saturday was both intense and enjoyable. I got ordained as a priest in the early afternoon, and then a few hours later celebrated my first communion in the open air, on the hillside above Martley.
It may seem strange to have a second ordination just a year after the first one; it’s an Anglican thing, but this one permits me to celebrate Holy Communion and to be able to take weddings. The service was similar to the one last year, but somehow it had more impact emotionally on all of us involved. This may in large part be due to the wonderful sermon given by Bishop Jack Nicholls, who had also led the retreat in Cropthorne. He has an extraordinary ability to tell stories that have a deep impact emotionally as well as spiritually.
Afterwards, there was a celebratory barbecue at Noak Farm, most generously hosted by Richard and Claire Bray. Their farm is on the hillside just above Martley – it’s a stunning location with amazing views. It was a relaxed gathering, and a great opportunity for the church to meet friends and family from Cheltenham. We were very fortunate to have excellent weather – which had seemed unlikely during Thursday’s downpour!
One main reason for having the event there was to be able to use it to do my first Holy Communion – using a bale of straw for the altar, and with spectacular views of Martley and the surrounding Worcestershire countryside. Although God is present within church buildings, he’s also present outside the walls, in the midst of this rural community, within the countryside which he has ultimately created. I was glad of the opportunity to express that through leading communion in that context.
For me it was an extraordinary day and one that I’ll remember for a very long time.