The Sounds of Sirens Surround the Spirit
It was glorious as ordinations always are, and particularly the ones held in that space. Beautiful cathedral, beautiful music and great singing, good liturgy and choice of hymns (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing!), incense and beautiful vestments, two bishops, the procession with many clergy colleagues, and of course the happy ordinands and their families and friends.
At every ordination I go to (and I try to go to all of them), I pay special attention to the prayers and to the vows, remembering my own vows and re-calling myself to attend to them and I pray for the ordinands.
I especially like the part where we who are already ordained come forward to lay hands on the ordinands along with the bishop at the end of the prayer of consecration. We go forward as we begin singing the hymn Veni Sanctu Spiritus to stand around the ordinand. Our bishop observes a rather long silence after the singing of the hymn, before he begins the prayer of consecration. It signifies the making room for the Spirit to come. I like the practice very much. It seems right to observe silence at that time.
On Sunday, during the we stood in silence in the face of having sung, Come Holy Spirit, I became very aware of the sound of sirens. Emergency vehicles were racing down Peachtree Street, just outside the cathedral, sirens blaring, as we stood there in front of that beautiful altar, surrounding the ordinands, about to hear the bishop confirm what all present were doing together - making these five people priests in God's church.
And I listened to the sirens, and listened to the silence, and thought, yes, that's about right, too. How appropriate to stand at the altar and hear the sound of sirens, a sound that signifies both trouble and the fact that help is on the way, in the moments before one becomes a priest.