Friday, October 12, 2012

Calling the un-tied!

Homily preached at Eltham College on 5th and 12th October 2012 following the Ordination to the Diaconate.

My first homily to the school after my ordination as Deacon.

It’s that little voice again.

You, know the one.

The alarm clock has just rung
         and the little voice is telling you
                “stay in bed a little longer,
                         just a little longer.
                               You’ve got plenty of time.”

The calling of that little voice
            is very persuasive,
                     and so another five minutes in bed
                             seems a perfectly reasonable decision.

Of course five minutes easily become half an hour.

When you realise you’re late, you’re up like a shot.

You’ve gollopped down your Chocolate Cheerios,
             cleaned seven of your teeth,
                    thus giving the mirror a spray tan with Colgate
                          and shot out of the house faster than
                                       Prince Harry from the billiards room.

However, you’ve made it in to the College on time
          thus avoiding that disapproving scowl of the Senior Master
                   reserved especially for latecomers
                                and detesters of Shakespeare.

As you catch sight of yourself
          in the reflection on a window,
                   you notice to your horror
                          that you’ve forgotten your tie!

It goes without saying
          that you happen to bump into each and every member of staff,
                  each of whom questions you
                           about your lack of tie.

Before you are issued with a spare tie
        which looks as if Groundskeeper Willie has used it
               to tie up the compost heap to keep it from escaping,
                           an explanation is demanded of you. 

What then do you say?

 The lack of a tie always demands an explanation.


Listening to a call of one of those little voices in your head
         can make a major difference to your life.

The mind is a warehouse for the Butterfly effect.

Just listening to what those voices say
             can make the difference between
                    studying Chemistry at Oxford
                          and Economics at Warwick,
                                  or even prancing about the stage trying
                                            to impersonate the Rizzle Kicks.

 Some perfectly ordinary blokes
         even find themselves called to be Deacons
                     in the Anglican Catholic Church.



Does that mean the onset of madness, hearing voices?

 In some way, we all “hear” voices in our heads
                – little chattering things that give us ideas
                             and suggestions from the depths of our minds.

We sometimes find ourselves presented
            with strange impulses that seem to come from nowhere. 

“Go on, have a bacon sandwich.”

 “Go on, play five more minutes of Assassin’s Creed.”

“Go on, trip up Fred as he runs past.”

 “Go on, don’t buy Drake’s latest album,
          get One Direction’s instead because Harry looks fine.”

Some of these voices do actually give you
            good ideas and spur you on to greater things.

 “Why not try out for the first XV?”

“Why not Oxbridge?”

 “Why not ask for help with your chemistry homework?”

Indeed, many people have gone on
           to do great things because of listening to
                     some insistent impulse deep within them.

But! Other voices are less so.

 “Why not put off revision to the night before the exam?”

 “Why not stick your finger in the Bunsen burner?”

 “Why not get that tattoo of Harry Styles on your arm?”

 With all this chattering inside it is often difficult
          to separate the good voices from the bad voices,
                  especially when some voices are making you consider
                            some of the great choices in your life.

There’s no point in trying for Oxford
           if you know in your heart of hearts
                  you aren’t going to make the grades,
                      but how do you find out
                            what’s in your heart of hearts
                                in the first place?

 Likewise, if you know that Hockey is your game
         and not rugby,
                  trying out for the first XV might seem rather daft.

 Then again, it might be the best decision of your life!

You need time to consider what these voices are saying.


 There has to be careful listening,
          consideration of all the consequences
                   and whether this decision is right for you.

For the Christian,
            there is the added belief that God is calling you.

For Moses, the call comes
     in the form of a voice from a burning bush.
For the prophet Elijah it is a still, small voice.

 For the Prophet Samuel,
          there is a voice calling him in the middle of the night.

God’s voice will be one of the many
        that we hear in our lives
                  but it will not necessarily be a loud call.

It is highly unlikely that your mobile will ring
        and the voice of the Divine will
           bellow the answer down the phone.
             “Become a Deacon!”

The fact is that we are simply not likely to receive
           dramatic calls of Biblical proportions.

We are more likely to hear our call
         in human voices or find an internal sense
             of purpose or passion
                  that convinces us that we are meant to do something.

For the first Christians
       such as St Peter, St James and St John,
              the call comes from an itinerant Rabbi,
                       a teacher who was influences the world
        with common sense teaching and yet
                     suffers an agonising death on the cross for it.

St Benedict is called to transform peoples’ lives
          through monasticism and his rule is still used today.

 It is St Benedict that we have to thank
          for the system of schooling that we have today.

Blessed Theresa of Calcutta is called to feed the poor in India
                    and her work continues long after her death.

All of these receive what they perceive as a call from God. 

For each of them
      there is a long period of listening
            to the voices around them.


Like all of these folk,
          you too have decisions to make in your life
                     based on who you believe yourself to be.

You will need to take time and find space
            to listen to all the voices that you hear in your life.

The ideas that are good for you will persist.

These are the voices that are not satisfied
         with anything superficial
              but create a passion
                    or a nagging insistence
                         at the very heart of your being.

Your calling will be something
        that will both exhilarate you
               and frighten you at the same time,
                     but it will be something that will transform you
                               into the person you want to be.

Answering the call takes time,
       a good ear,  
             wise companions,
                  and much patience.

How exactly are you going to discern your calling?


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