'it's formation jim, but not as we know it'

the end of the second term! can you believe it. two thirds of the way through the first year, one third through the entire process - not that i'm counting.

as i've been reflecting on these last six months (because that's what we do, us theological types, we 'reflect' - other people just 'think about'), i've realised that there was uh, crap, that i was expecting from ordination training, and crap that i wasn't expecting.

the buzz word for any of this is 'formation', it seems to be the catch all phrase for any of it, whether it's good or bad. of course, good formation may not feel good and bad formation may not feel bad, at the time, and it may take a bit of discerning to figure out which is which. and, you know, i don't mind the hard stuff, but i'd rather not assume that all manner of rubbish is simply good in the name of 'formation'.

q and i went for a walk today and i was chatting about some of this stuff, about the unexpected and expected and i was saying that the expected stuff, which is generally about group dynamics, competition and jealousy, that kind of thing, is all good practice for ministry. q said, 'well why isn't the rest of it'? good point. it's not that i haven't thought of that...really.

hmmm. it's just, well, anything could be justified on the basis of that, couldn't it? 'oh you're being bullied at school? don't worry, it's good practice for the rubbish you'll probably experience in the workplace' 'hmm you're disturbed by the lack of trade justice in the majority world? well, it's....good practice for them for THE REST OF THEIR LIFE'.

don't protest, don't speak out, whatever doesn't kill you will make... you... stronger......

but maybe that's the point. perhaps the formation i am getting, begins to teach me what it means to stand up - really, stand up.

people will always want the status quo. it's such a deeply held human desire - to maintain 'the way it is' - we would do almost anything to pretend that 'the way it is' is just fine. it takes a matrix moment to make us unable to deny the realities any more. is it to be the red pill, or the blue one?

but it takes something else to make sense of what you see, and to have the courage to be the one who works for a different future. is this the formation? to have courage forged out of the smelting pot? to make sure that when others fail to, to be the first to stand, and perhaps give others the courage to do the same?


Anonymous said...

Fight for what u think is right, make sure your right before you start to fight.

Anonymous said...

Jodie, I continue to observe my wife's priestly formation, which has been going on now for four years (formally) and I think I only started to understand it after she was ordained deacon two years ago. It is neither well defined nor well taught, but becomes very real. I might help with a retired scientist's view of how it works. As you learn, following where God leads in the learning process (a path with many unexpected turns and directions given by you, your teachers and your church fellowship)you gradually reach a place on a path where you feel that God says. "This is the route I want you on, and I am happy that you pursue it. Trust me and I will sustain you and give you all that you need for this journey."

It is certainly not a formal qualification; Ridley will give you one of those and it will be good. It is not either confidence that you "have got it" or have all the skills you need for all possible future paths. It is much more like one of my many business trips which, when I was younger, could seem awfully challenging, even frightening. After a while of intense learning and with many crises of confidence and faith that I was making progress, I reached a point where I could be peaceful about the fact that, when given by people I trusted a new and strange task to do in a new place, I would rest in the knowledge that I had the relevant skills and should have some confidence in them, even when operatingin a little known environment.

A probable part of formation is the identification of your current calling and equipping / gifting. Just as in business an entrepreneur is needed for start-ups, but is a very painful companion in a complex or stable people-centred organisation, so you will discern the path for you along the parish, frex pioneer or sector ministry route. At the moment when you are clear that your desires (prayer formed), your friend's and teachers advice, and the presenting opportunity all fit peacefully together, you will be formed for your calling. Whatever and wherever it is. I wish you well in it and hope we read more from you again at Fulcrum, but never forget that the word of God is heard from behind as you walk forward. Have a great Easter walk!