i'm afraid i was disappointed
I read a portion of scripture at an ordination event yesterday, for which the words were projected on the screen. This is for people with hearing difficulties. I don't think I like it. I was looking out, trying to meet people in the eye as I communicated this part of their Sacred Story to them, and they weren't looking at me at all. They were distracted, and disconnected from me, and I have to wonder, then, if they weren't also disconnected from the story?
I'm all for providing the words for hearing impaired people, but I wonder if it would actually be better to do that on sheets of paper that people can choose to take, because by putting it on the wall, it's a distraction for those who can hear.
If you're going to communicate this important story, which has found its way to your heart through your preparation to read or tell it to the community, you need to connect with the listeners. I did not feel connected at all to that group of listeners, and I have to say, I think it affected my communication. There were people who expressed their thanks for the reading, so it can't have been too badly affected, but it felt disjointed at the time for me.
I have to say I was also disappointed with the words of the songs the community was invited to sing. We sang 'I' more often than 'God' - I don't think that's right. It certainly felt quite wrong and uncomfortable for me. Quite uncomfortable. I couldn't sing, and I fought the urge to sit down with some difficulty.
I was disappointed, too, that albs were not worn. The symbolism of that meant that rather than seeing servant leaders standing before us to be ordained, we saw white, middle class, educated men. For me, the alb moves those aspects of who we are to the background, and foregrounds our baptism, our role in the gathered community, and with the stole, our ordination. I heard the argument that the stole removes a leader from the community - I think that's fear of being the sign and symbol the ordained leader is within the gathered assembly. There's no avoiding it, that's who, that is what we are. After our wonderful explorations at the seminar week in Sydney on the gathered assembly, its leaders, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I was very disappointed indeed.
But to end on a positive note, the words of my friend who was ordained were a positive yesterday afternoon, expressing in words if not through the wearing of an alb, the importance of servant leadership among other things, and the celebration and support of these newly ordained leaders also a positive sign for the church.