Yesterday I had one of those days where ministry looks rather different to the normal (if there is a ‘normal’ for Bloomsbury).
Mostly, it involved sitting and applauding gently for several hours in front of a couple of thousand people. Oh, and wearing silly robes that look vaguely like I have draped myself in the Welsh National flag.
Or, to put it another way, I was participating in the King’s College London graduations, as part of my role as the Baptist Chaplain there (a voluntary role which occasionally puts me in the orbit of academics and students).
So what have I learned?
Well, it seems that black lipstick is in, and so are kilts and kimonos; and I’ve mentally awarded various students with the Simon Award for best national dress, and worst overall presentation (flip-flops and a T-shirt, worn under a Vivienne Westwood gown, if you’re wondering); but mostly I’ve been struck by the dedication and enthusiasm of the students in law and medicine, who have given themselves to years of study. And then there was the poignant moment when a we applauded the award of a posthumous degree.
But there, in the midst of it, sitting centre stage, was the chaplain (I’m a small part of a large team, and we take it in turns). King’s is a university which takes seriously the pastoral and spiritual support of both students and staff, and there is a chaplain at every graduation ceremony to symbolise this. I also had good conversations about Bloomsbury with staff over lunch, including our conducting of Same sex marriages (very well received), and our ecumenical and inter-faith commitments (equally well received).
Sometimes, I think, ministry and discipleship are just about ‘turning up’; being present to the moment, and allowing God to use us as the Spirit leads. None of us should underestimate the importance of our just ‘being there’, giving time and attention to others. In the busyness of many of our lives, some things can seem like a waste of time, but sometimes it is those moments that God uses to speak the whispers of his kingdom into the lives of others.