Christianity Church of England & Ministry Curate's Life

Pre-ordination blur and making a stole

So in just a few days time I will be ordained deacon at Chichester Cathedral. It’s fair to say the last few weeks have been pretty manic with moving house and leaving my job etc, so that I am absolutely delighted to be going off to the oasis that is the pre-ordination retreat on Wednesday. So by the time this posts, I will be on it, madly praying my way through panic, feeling overwhelmed and yet also pathetically grateful to an awesome God who I still just don’t understand (will I ever?!)

I start work the day after my ordination and I think I might be a wee bit busy for a few weeks and whilst I know there will be much to reflect on I’m not sure how much time I will have to write about it, so I’m hoping to schedule a few posts here ahead of time and will come back to fill in the blanks later. If you want to keep up with me day to day, try Twitter @redjules or Facebook.

In the meantime, here’s something about my ordination stole…

So, a stole is a sort of scarf worn round the neck and there are various different liturgical colours for different times of the year. The origins of the stole seem sketchy but one thought, which I rather like, is that it was a representation of the cloth Jesus used when he washed the disciples feet, so it is a symbol of service. In our diocese you don’t have to wear one for ordination if it isn’t your tradition. It isn’t mine but I still really liked the idea of wearing something special and so I decided if I was going to wear one then I wanted to make my own, then it would also be something to keep for the future and treasure. With this in mind I decided to use my wedding dress which has been in the wardrobe for the last 15 years, in fact it hasn’t even been dry cleaned since the wedding! Apart from the obvious fact that it is a special garment, I loved the idea of using the symbolism of the wedding, at my ordination. In Revelation 19 we see the wedding feast of the lamb, symbolically referring to Christ’s bride as the church. At the second coming, Christ will return for his bride, to take her home. I love this picture, especially for us working in the church, that we really do have a responsibility to prepare the church for Jesus. Do we want a bride looking shabby and in tatters on her wedding day? or do we (as most of us would) want her looking beautiful, radiant and in her best outfit? 

So in using my wedding dress to make this, it reminds me of this passage, of the responsibility I shall bear, the beauty of what God is calling me in to, and the joining with both Christ and his church in a new way.

I designed a pattern that makes it more personal, so there are some key themes: Foundation: Love; Belief: Trinity; Encounter: Holy Spirit.

Foundation – if you read this blog or have heard me preach you’ll know my main theme at the moment is love, it is such a fundamental foundation and I hope it will underpin all that I do in ordained ministry. So I’ve embroidered hearts on to the stole.  This is the root of all.

Belief – I believe in the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I wanted to reference this as a core belief (and funnily enough I am going to be at a church called ‘Trinity’). The three pearls put together in clusters represent the Trinity. This is what I believe.

Encounter – I long for more of the Holy Spirit – it is through the Holy Spirit that we encounter God for ourselves, and more and more I realise that people need an encounter rather than a history lesson. So the lines weaving up represent the Holy Spirit fire of Pentecost. This is my desire to see again.

I also love that in making this I used things from my heritage: in this pic are my Mum’s dress making scissors and my Nan’s old pins. Plus some of the beads belonged to my Nan, my Mum and my oldest daughter.

It has been totally crazy trying to finish this in the last few days before going on retreat but I reckon it’s worth it!

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  • Reply
    January 24, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Wow love it. Found you in my search for stole patterns. My best friend is being ordained in Dubai. And I’ve thought that I could make one as my gift to her. Where did you get the pattern please

    • Reply
      January 24, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Hiya. What a lovely idea! I actually made up my own pattern by trail and error so I’m not sure that is much help but there were a few places online where I think you could buy a pattern – try googling it and see what comes up. Hope it goes well. Jules

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