In our label-motivated society, I struggle at times with the nature of my own. I have wrestled with it here, and so many utterances that revolve around 'bloke' have already been made - and won't here be revisited!
I speak (naturally, and why wouldn't I, don't you?) of my 'ecclesial' label. What kinda Christian am I?
There are some non-negotiables, and for sake of a start, will list them here [for ease, future employers]
1. I am happy that God knows what he is doing as regards those he calls to ministry (forgive the gender slant in my own words) - and I therefore do not regard sexuality, gender or academic prowess to be impediments to ordained ministry.
2. I am a proud Anglo-Catholic, love the living liturgy, celebrate the ceremonial, revel in the ritual. These 'do it' for me, as they bring me closer to my own relationship to the Holy Sacraments - the absolute centres of my spiritual existence. I love the music of the liturgy, and the older the better (broadly)
3. The Eucharist is the source of my energy and the root of the expression of my faith.
4. Those who call themselves Christian should go to church as often and regularly as they can, even on those occasions when it seems a chore and a burden (more so in those cases, perhaps) - I apply this model to myself and have always tried to live according to this model of discipleship.
This is not an exhaustive list, but more the 'broad brush-strokes' of what I personally stand for. My parishioners call me 'Father', I wear black and a collar when I am in 'work' mode - and so on. Then there is the other side of me which has yet to find itself a list. They are facets of me that are growing. I am rather 'charismatic' in my liturgy - I am not bound to the spot, and wander around rather a lot; I have reverted to preaching without full texts, move away from the printed words at times. I am annoyed by the over-fussiness of some ceremonial style, regarding them as rites suitable only for the 'interest group'. This blog and my own persona are odd in my own ecclesial circles - and for that I can't and won't apologise. I find myself wondering whether Greenbelt might even a little be for me, and I have a reserved place at Spring Harvest already. I find I hold in tension a love for Walsingham with a frustration with lacey liturgy; a passion for Palestrina and a love for Metallica. I adore the transcendant beauty of liturgy-done-well, but I also thrive on the spontaneous opportunities that emerge in that liturgy.
Perhaps I am a maverick, perhaps I am (to borrow the Heavy Metal styling) Nu-catholic! My DDO (look it up dear, I haven't the energy) once told me that I couldn't go to St Stephen's House to train, that I was catholic enough. I had to go somewhere else to train where I might acquire a little breadth.
It is an interesting journey for me - often bewildering if I am honest, but one that is probably only of interest to this greying over-weight cleric, hence its appearance at nearly midnight on a Saturday night.
I thank my God for my chance to be the hybrid breed that appears to be required of me. Who knows where it will take me next ...