We all are called: to follow and to serve. In June, we ordain those whose call is to serve as deacons and priests. But that is not the only way to follow or necessarily the best way to serve.
Let me tell you about ‘Adam’.
Adam was disruptive in a low-key sort of way. He was habitually late for school, frequently coming without food or money for lunch, with the wrong uniform or uniform that was dirty and a bit smelly. Sometimes Adam had pyjama bottoms instead of underwear on under his clothes. Home work was rarely done on time – though when it was done, he showed real potential.
Thankfully Adam had around him, at school, at church and indeed at home, those who treated him with the dignity of a precious child of God. Though his home life could, at best, be described as chaotic, he was loved. And others echoed that love, giving him the attention he required, listening to what was unsaid, as well as what was often shouted quite loudly. Others were able to offer consistency and security, appropriate challenge and opportunity, delighting in the advances Adam made and in his unique contribution to school, church and community.
Underneath his slightly odd, sometimes difficult, often unsettling exterior, Adam was compassionate, loyal, determined and brave. He joined the St John’s Ambulance Corps and loved it. In his GCSE year he received an award in recognition of his extraordinary response to a stranger having a heart attack at a bus stop. Adam’s calm, informed, timely action was instrumental in saving the man’s life. Adam was commended for the dignity with which he dealt with the man in trouble – including offering to pray while they waited for an ambulance.
Jesus’ call comes to us all – parents, teachers, emergency service personnel, strangers at a bus stop...
In recognition that it is not only the ordained, or even only adults, who are called to follow and to serve, in June we also again present, at a special service, Bishop’s Badges to pupils in our schools whose exemplary service offer hope.
This summer I pray you too will hear Jesus’ invitation to follow and the challenge to serve. And remembering the example of our newly ordained clergy and our too often overlooked children and young people, choose to follow and serve wherever God has called you.
The Rt Revd Libby Lane
Bishop of Derby