Thanking God and exhorting a bishop

Just home from a wonderful thanksgiving celebration of God’s faithfulness at the Cathedral. Today was very special in many ways as we gave thanks to God for his call and sustaining Spirit over these 10 years as Bishop of Tasmania.

A strong word from the Dean on thanking God. Expressions of our life and ministry in Tasmania via intriguing symbols: carrots, hay and evangelistic leaflet – donkey outreach ministry; red socks – Pentecost and Holy Spirit; cans and wire – recycling and financing of ministry; beautiful tapestry of life, light and love – A Blessing for Tasmania; and an iron bark carving with script – a healthy church … transforming life.  

I also shared some reflections on the prayer pilgrimage.

The words of the Exhortation were read to me by Bill Haas who was the Registrar when I commenced my ministry as Bishop of Tasmania. Bill has supported me wonderfully throughout my episcopate, both as Registrar and ‘Retired’!

Marking 10 Years Led by Bill Haas:  +John at your consecration you heard these words,

 The Exhortation,

A bishop is called to maintain the Church’s witness
    to the resurrection of Christ,
      to protect the purity of the gospel,
      and to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.
As a chief minister and pastor in Christ’s Church,
      you are to guard its faith, unity and discipline,
      and promote its mission in the world.
You are to ensure that God’s word is faithfully proclaimed,
      Christ’s sacraments duly administered,
      and Christ’s discipline applied justly, with mercy.
You are to lead and guide the priests and deacons under your care,
      and be faithful in the choosing and ordaining of ministers.
You are to watch over, protect and serve the people of God,
      to teach and govern them, and to be hospitable.
You must, therefore, know and be known by them,
      and be a good example to all.
These are the duties of a bishop, and they are weighty.

 How humbling to hear Bill’s words of thanks and continuing commitment in prayer:

We give thanks for the way you have carried out your duties for the past 10 years and we commit ourselves to pray for your ongoing ministry.

The Exhortation concludes with the question: Are you willing to perform them?

        I responded at my ordination: I am willing: may God guide and help me.

I thank God for my wife’s unflagging love and support, colleagues such as Bill and all the saints who have walked with me.

God has guided and helped me through them on innumerable occasions. Thank you.

The Exhortation is from ‘The Ordination of Bishops’, A Prayer Book for Australia, Broughton Books 1995, page 802.

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