May I firstly begin this letter by thanking all of you for your prayers and support over the last year and during the week leading up to my ordination as a priest. My family and I had an amazing day on Saturday 28th of June at the Cathedral and it was a pleasure to see my family and friends welcomed into the G7 community for my first Eucharist on the 29th. Our thanks go out to all who helped to make it a special occasion.
During my ordination retreat I was thinking about hands. This was partly because Reverend Sheila and I have had many discussions about what we do with our hands when we are celebrating but also because my hands would be doing a new thing.
When I think of what my hands have done they tell a tale of my life. The scars made by cuts from barbed wire, bow saws and picking up a glass jar too firmly tell of my years in farming. Knife scars tell of my years as a fishmonger.
My hands have brought life into the world and held the hand of a friend who was dying. They held each of my children minutes after they were born and have held onto them ever since.
My hands have learnt how to carve a spoon out of wood and have bandaged a man’s arms after he cut himself when life became too difficult for him.
Hands can do many things.
They can harm or heal, be dirty or clean. They can touch, sense and feel. Hands can love or hate, speak and show emotion.
Hands drove nails into a cross.
Now my hands will take bread, break it and give it to each of you.
Just before the ordination service all the deacons gathered with the Archbishop, Bishop Trevor, the Archdeacons and the Bishop’s chaplain in the room we had been using for worship during the week. Bishop Trevor took each of our hands and anointed them with Chrism oil saying ‘May God, who anointed the Christ with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, anoint and empower you to reconcile and bless his people.’ Then he gently closed our hands together as we sat in silence.
Having my hands anointed in service for God and for you was the most moving part of my ordination and I look forward to when I reflect again on my hands and see what stories they will tell of the G7 Benefice.
All of our hands tell a story when we look at them and all of our hands have been called to God’s service and to the service of each other. They may not have been anointed with oil but they have been anointed with the Holy Spirit at our baptism. Just think, the next time you give someone the peace it could be the first time that they have had human contact for a week.
We are the body of Christ and in one spirit we were all baptised into one body.
May God bless you and keep you.
Reverend Chris Hodgkins. (Assistant Curate of G7 Benefice)
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion
is to look out to the earth,
yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good
and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.
St Teresa of Avila