The Most Revd Pat Storey was enthroned at St Brigid’s Catehdral, Kildare on Saturday 14 December 2013, having been enthroned in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Trim on Friday 6 December.
She is pictured above at the door of Kildare Cathedral before the service.
Bishop Storey gave the following address at Kildare Cathedral:
I am now almost there! I have been consecrated a fortnight ago, and
enthroned in Trim Cathedral last week, and finally, last but not least, I
am here with you in Kildare and I am delighted. It is a dawning
realization in all the ceremonial rituals that the Church of Ireland
does so well, that really the work is only about to start. A
consecration is a beginning and not an end!
‘Firstly may I thank you all for your warm welcome? Earl and I were
so blessed with all your good wishes and kindness through the last few
weeks. They say that moving house and moving job are at the top of the
league of stressful events in your life and we have just completed both!
Obviously the media attention will all die down shortly and we will be
able to just get on with the job. But we have now very definitely moved
in, moved on and are ready for a new start. We were extremely happy in
Derry, and we have no doubt that we will be happy here. So thank you for
your warm welcome.
‘We all have our favourite hymns, don’t we? I imagine if I were to go
around you all, we would all have a special hymn that means something
to us. We have just sung mine, and whilst I love the rolling tune of it,
it is the words that really grab me: “O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless free. Rolling as a mighty ocean in its
fullness over me.” What amazing words! Isn’t that what Christian faith
is all about? We need to know the deep, deep love of Jesus as we try to
live out Christian faith in a stress–ridden world.
‘There’s nothing like being elected a Bishop to help you to cling to
God in a way that we probably should be doing every day! Today’s psalm,
Psalm 146 says this: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in any human
power, for there is no help in them. Happy are those who have the God of
Jacob for their help; whose hope is the Lord their God.” We often say
that we depend on God, and yet I wonder if we really do? Sometimes it
takes a huge life event to make us throw ourselves on Him in a fresh way
and it is our need that drives us to Him. I wonder if God wishes that
it wouldn’t take a huge life event for us to truly walk closely with
Him? And yet He always forgives our weakness, and waits until we come to
‘Uncertainty is a hallmark of 21st century life, isn’t it? People
don’t know anymore what to believe, who to trust, how they will meet
their financial commitments, and how long their health will last. Life,
especially as we get older, is full of uncertainties. The reading from
Isaiah has something to say to our uncertainty: “Say to those who are of
a fearful heart, Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God! He will come
and save you!”
‘This man may have been acquainted with fear. A Canadian country
preacher decided to skip services one Sunday and head to the hills to do
some bear hunting. As he rounded the corner on a perilous twist in the
trail, he and a bear collided, sending him and his rifle tumbling down
the mountainside. Before he knew it, his rifle went one way and he went
the other, landing on a rock and breaking both legs. That was the good
news. The bad news was the ferocious bear charging at him from a
distance and he couldn’t move. “Oh, Lord” the preacher prayed “I’m so
sorry for skipping services today to come our here and hunt.
forgive me and grant me just one wish … please make a Christian out of
that bear that’s coming at me. Please, Lord!” That very instant, the
bear skidded to a halt, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and
began to pray aloud right at the preacher’s feet. “Dear God, bless this
food I am about to receive…” Fear is a natural human phenomenon
especially when there is danger!
‘I have no idea what you face in your life right at this moment – but
I do know who will calm the storm. To some extent, we all have fearful
hearts, so this word is for each one of us. Fear is a normal, human
everyday experience. We all have it. There are some fears that perhaps
particularly grip us – I hate flying; daddy long legs, and being late!
Your fears may be entirely different, but nobody is immune from fear. If
you are human, you know what it is to fear. So this word – “say to
those who are of a fearful heart”, is a word for you and me. And what is
the message? “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God! He will come
and save you!”
Naturally we know, from life experience, that this does
not mean that God will not let us go through any troubles, otherwise we
are all doing something very wrong! God doesn’t promise us stress free
lives where no–one will get sick or die, nobody will lose their jobs and
all marriages are happy. No. What God promises is that he will walk
with us. It is that simple. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I
need.” It is my experience that no matter what the storm is in my life,
and how strong the fear is, God never fails to show up. He has never
abandoned me or left me to it. He has walked me through it even though
there are times when I would rather He just took the problem away. So
how about you? Where in your life right now are you of a fearful heart?
What part of you needs badly to hear that good news – “Be strong, do not
fear! Here is your God!”
‘Many of you may know from media interviews in the last few weeks
that I wasn’t brought up in church circles. We weren’t a churchgoing
family and when I developed a personal faith in my early twenties, the
one massive difference that my faith made to me was knowing I wasn’t
alone – that there was someone who was always there; utterly reliable;
always available; perfectly loving. Now I had a wonderful family and
great friends – but in the core of my being when a personal faith grew
in me, I knew for certain that I would never be left to my own devices
again, and this is good news for a newly appointed Bishop! I promise you
I will not be depending on my own wisdom!
‘It is the love of God – the deep, deep love of Jesus, which drives
those of us who claim Christian faith. That is what we have to offer
other people, and that is what they desperately need. Perhaps more than
ever, people’s lives are busy and full and stressful – they need to know
that there is someone who loves them and who will always show up. That
is our God.
‘So how do people know that we Christians have something they need?
Mustn’t there be a way of demonstrating how much they are loved by God?
The gospel reading for this afternoon has a challenging message. It is
the story of how John the Baptist is wondering – is Jesus the Messiah?
He has heard rumours, and he doesn’t quite know what to make of Jesus
yet. So he sends a message from prison to say – so is it you? Are you
the one we have been waiting for? Jesus, are you it?
The Lord’s answer is this – what do you see? That’s his answer.
Here’s the proof: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the
deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news brought to
them. That’s how you know. What a challenge to us as we live out
Christian faith in the 21st century, with busy lives, family and work
demands, and trying to keep our head above water. If John sent a message
from prison to us and said – is it you?
Are you it? Are you the one
with the good news? How might we respond? Could any of us say – what do
you see? Here’s the proof. I find this personally a very daunting
challenge from Jesus. The bottom line is – our faith absolutely must be
demonstrated in who we are, and in what we do. Our faith must result in
something – it must have legs. Otherwise it is just words.
‘So how might we meet that challenge in our ordinary everyday lives?
How might we prove that we have good news? It would be daunting for us
to think about restoring sight to the blind, or raising the dead, or
cleansing the leper – but let’s go back to the Old Testament reading
from Isaiah – because this we can share. We can say to those of a
fearful heart – “Be strong, do not fear. Here is your God!” When we
ourselves have experienced his personal love for us and his mercy
towards our weakness and fear, we can say to others with confidence –
Here is your God!
‘The season of Advent is about waiting for Jesus. It is traditionally
a time of penance and thoughtfulness and stillness when we wait. We
just wait. Perhaps we should take some time before the madness of the
Christmas season, to wait for Jesus where we need Him most. Wait until
we can say – Here is my God! And when we have, we give it away to those
who need it too. Faith, like a well known box of chocolates, is for
‘In the Isaiah passage God promises to “strengthen the weak hands and
make firm the feeble knees”. My knees are certainly more feeble than
they used to be!! And my hands are beginning to look more and more like
my late mother’s! But where we are weak God will strengthen and make
firm. That is His promise to us this afternoon. Be strong. Do not fear. Here is your God.
Firstly, know it for yourself, deep down inside, in
the core of your being. And secondly, give it away. Share it. Be
extravagant with it, so that God is given all the glory. Then when
people ask – is it you? Do you have something that can help me with my
fear? Then you can say – what do you see?’