Sermon for Kimberly's Induction

I had an out of town preaching gig last night in Dunblane, where I was preaching for the induction of the Rev Kimberly Bohan as she took up her post as Rector of St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Dunblane.

Blogging coverage of the service itself (from Rosemary, I think) is here. And here from Bishop David.

It was a lovely service with more faces than I expected to recognise – people from St Mary’s, clergy from the diocese of Dunblane, St Andrews and Dunkeld, people who used to deliver my political leaflets and folk from St Saviour’s, Bridge of Allan. All in all a treat all round. (NB some of those categories overlap).

And this is what I said:
The story is this. A young woman gathers herself up and takes herself off at some speed for a town in the hill-country. There she finds a safe and secure place to be. There she finds a place where she can sing her own special song.

The young woman Mary flew as fast as she could to the sanctuary of her cousin Elizabeth�s home in the gentle Judean hill-country. There she abided awhile and there she sang the song, the Magnificat, a hymn of praise, a hymn of justice, a hymn of putting the world to rights and a hymn that Christians find is just too good to stop singing.

And tonight we seem to be celebrating a remarkably similar event. A young woman gathers up her goods and chattels and has arrived here at some speed � as fast, at least, as moving house can ever be. She arrives right here, right now in a small town nestling at the end of the Ochil hills. A place to abide in peace. And, Kimberly, this is the place to which you now belong.

And your task, should you chose to accept it. (and I suggest that having brought us all to this place, you do), your task, is simply to teach people here to sing Mary�s song anew in this place that bears her name all these years later.

We�ll come back to that in a minute, but right now, just let me pause for a moment and think about the feast day that we are celebrating. You have nudged us into celebrating a feast tonight � that of the Visitation. Let the congregation of St Mary�s be aware that this is not the first time that Kimberly will very gently and very firmly give them a nudge.

The Visitation should be celebrated on 31 of May, but this year 31 May is a Sunday and its Pentecost to boot. If that were not enough, its the day on which the new Casting the Net diocesan plan is launched. So the Feast of the Visitation gets a nudge. Not to Monday, which is the day on which the rest of the church will celebrate but to tonight, because it seems just too good a chance to miss. The story of Mary meeting Elizabeth is just too good to miss for a church dedicated to Mary which is welcoming its new Rector.

This feast goes by a number of different names. Here in the Western Church we know it as the Visitation. In other parts of the church it is known differently. Some call it The Meeting. Some call it, The Encounter. Rather more potent, profound names for a feast which is pregnant with good things.

The Meeting. The Encounter.

Kimberly. I remember when we met. I�ve known you for almost as long as anyone else in Scotland. We met in your first couple of days at University, thrown together by nothing more than the changes and chances of a queue for a meal in a hall of residence in freshers� week. That was a time when neither of us belonged to the Scottish Episcopal Church and had I been able to foretell you your journey then you would have laughed and laughed. (And probably danced merrily off in the opposite direction).

This is the feast of the Meeting. The Encounter. And I can�t but help myself from remembering the first time we met.

Twenty year�s ago, I met someone in a queue for food who had within herself unusual gifts. An uncommon intelligence. An uncommon kindness. An uncommon gift for friendship. And I know from being in at least one of your Scottish Country Dance classes that you know exactly how to be in charge.

Looking back now, it seems so obvious that you would have ended up a priest. Your own meetings and encounters with God and your own meetings and encounters with the people of God, have made you the person who stands here ready to take hold of a new challenge.

And here you arrive, breathless no doubt after your move, here in this town in this hill-country.

You arrive in a place that I a little about. When I was living down the road in Bridge of Allan, I worked with some members of the congregation here at St Mary�s on their Mission 21 plans.

I know that by now, they will be ready to use your gifts. And I know that one of your gifts is allowing the gifts of other people to flourish.

And you have a job to do. Your job, as I see it is to help other people to keep singing Mary�s song. Oh, there will be new ways of singing it. You�ll make it sing on your blog and on facebook and you�ll enjoy learning how to sending out the message of worship and praise, of justice and of joy on twitter too. But you will enjoy too the Meetings, the face to face Encounters here in this place that make being a rector such a special and uncommon vocation.

I know that you will enjoy being the Rector of a Church dedicated to our Lady. Her song of praise is one that you are familiar with. It is already a keystone of your own prayers. Tonight, you take on the responsibility for singing it in a new place.

I have my hunches that you know how to do that.

My guess is that it means encouraging others to sing the songs of freedom and liberation that Mary herself sang to the infant Jesus. I guess you plan on keeping the doors of the church open to welcome those who think they have no place here. I�ve a notion that you will enjoy helping adults to play and I know that you will be taking the prayers of God�s youngest friends with the utmost seriousness.

Tonight Kimberly, we all celebrate with you your arrival here. The fact is, that for now you know where you should be in the world. And I know that you know how to teach this congregation to belt out that Magnificat song in a world that desperately needs to hear it.

When Mary and Elizabeth had their meeting, there was a lot of excitement. There was a lot of goodwill. There was a lot of singing. And a lot of joy and delight.

Tonight is no different. Those things are yours to celebrate too. Yours to keep. And yours to share.

And may your soul magnify the Lord and your spirit rejoice in God your Saviour.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Comments

  1. Martin Ritchie says

    What a marvellous sermon to have at your induction! Great stuff.

  2. Rosemary says

    It’s a walking account of what happen when sermons get reported by others from memory, isn’t (yes, my blog.) It was a great sermon, Kelvin. I did try to blow my nose quietly – but I had to keep the mascara from running too badly…..

  3. Great sermon, Fr K. Sorry I missed it.

  4. Maureen (McK) says

    Kelvin, it was a great sermon. Would it be ok if I reproduced it in our church newsletter? The non computer older Dunoon folk would love to see it.

  5. Kelvin says

    No problem Maureen.

  6. Zebadee says

    It certainly was excellent. Many a ‘preacher’ could gain a great deal from studying your sermons. Could you not start a school for sermon givers? I am sure Nigal Robb would approve

  7. Elizabeth says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was so sorry to miss it and getting some of it post facto is excellent!

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