I have been thinking about Priesthood, being a Christian, and about being a person in the world today. I was thinking it last week and into this, but this thought process have been brought into sharp focus by a gathering of Curates that I have just enjoyed this last 24 hours or so.
A question raised towards the end of this little gathering was 'Who am I in Christ?'
This question was raised within the context of a bunch of baby-vicars trying to make sense of their newish lives in public ministry, and how best they may do that small thing. It seems that much of what and who we are in our own perceptions is the hinge upon which our work and life swings. Questions about self-identity, the blood-pursuit of Christians to model themselves on the person of Jesus Christ, and the inevitable mopping up after the inevitable failure - all these things dog us as they do all Christians, irrespective of tradition or ecclesiological expression.
This issue is often right at the forefront of our thinking. In the days in which we find ourselves, we learn of the battle that ordained women are enduring in their claim for full equality with men in the Church. We further learn of the divisions that this is causing between the many lobbies and their members. We are all alive in times that scream out a litany of self-improvment, self-awareness, betterment, sin-purging, de-toxing and so on. Christians are the worst offenders in that, sadly. We have more choices in our lives than ever before. We can be just about anyone we want to be, the choice is ours. The thing about it, my brothers and sisters, it is our right to be whoever we seek to be.
Those of you who are kind enough to read this Blog regularly (thanks to you) will know that a lot of what is in my mind is about either identity (mine or that of others) and my idolisation of children and childhood (my own kids in the main). The latter, I am fast discovering, informs the former.
Christians spend the large majority of their spiritual time wishing that they were better (in whatever criteria they mean it). The liturgical expression of many Christians hinges on prayerful self-flagellation and 'mea culpas' aplenty - all in the long journey to perfection in the image of Christ. This is, sadly or not, a path to absolute ruin. I am quite sure that I am called not just to be a priest, husband, father and friend - but also to be David Michael Cloake. I am quite sure that I am not called to be Jesus of Nazareth, or the Angel Gabriel. I think my adoration of childhood stems from the fact that at the moment of birth, a person is at their purest. At birth, the human being is as Christlike as it is possible to be. Only as we walk forward in life do we move away from that and in the end we become so divorced from ourselves that we have trouble finding the pathway back. The minute that I resolve to stop trying to be someone that I am not, and turn around to aspire with a whole heart to be the person that I am, will I start to become a fit disciple. As 'me' I am the person made in God's image; as a poor impersonation of someone whom I believe is more Christlike than I, I most certainly am not.
My prayer for me, for those in my care, for those in the Church and in the world at large is not about who may or may not do this or that (though such matters are important, pressing and painful), but that everyone may learn to be who they are meant to be - themselves.
Authentically, perfectly, rightfully ...