Thursday, June 27, 2013


I stood behind him, my hand on his shoulder, praying. He was kneeling. The bishop was seated in front of us, both arms outstretched. Other clergy were gathered around, all part of Karsten's story.

Karsten himself was still, receiving blessing, in a moment that I have seen sometimes be perfunctory but which here was genuinely holy.

It was a privilege to participate in my dear friend Karsten Wedgewood's ordination as a priest in the Church of England last Saturday.

I remember him joining St Catherine's. His English was stilted, his faith almost nowhere to be found. Years of theology in a major German university had all but squeezed the life out of him (it can do that to you; that, or help you fly) and he simply needed time to know Jesus.

We talked about the Resurrection quite a bit, I seem to recall. And we let the love of the people and the honesty of our worship do its work.

I think I always trust in these things because I find them to be so powerful and so true in my own experience. If God is found most clearly anywhere it is in the lives of his people. This is why, when his people fail, it hurts so much. Yet God shines through. For all the let-downs (we all get those - we all give them too, sadly), I have benefitted repeatedly in my life from people who have believed in me when I have forgotten how to do so; those people show me Jesus with a power they have no idea about.

As for worship, it's no surprise I'm going to depend upon the melodies of faith and gain strength from singing repeated promises of love to God based on clear statements of his character which exist in every form of Christian hymnody. All I'd add is that I don't think you need a voice or even an ear for these things to work; just a heart, and eyes to see when truth genuinely sustains and changes people.

Karsten doesn't share my passion for music; and yet as we talk I am impressed how deeply he cares about worship. He's had knocks from some who might have been better examples of faith, and yet it's the love of others that sings louder through his life.

We talked about the Resurrection quite a bit back in the day, and it's the same power that was seen in Jesus when God raised him from the dead that is at work in Karsten now. Is open to all of us. We all have our limits. We all have set-backs and imperfections (of our own and of others foisted upon us) and yet when we see Jesus, there is something amazing that happens:

We too are raised.

Life throws hundreds of little deaths at us. Yet, if we dare trust Jesus, we are raised up to something more by the One who was raised from a tomb in a garden on the third day.

Last Saturday it was a privilege to stand with a man who knows the inside truth of life and faith and who has willingly chosen to serve people and God and to offer this Jesus Resurrection truth. A privilege.

If you don't know Karsten, he's on the far right of the photo. Pray for him, and the parish where he lives. He's come a long way, and his story is far from done.

Which, I'd say with a great degree of gratitude, is probably a fair thing to say for all of us.

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