That's the thing about inductions - inevitably there is similarity as there are certain predictables, but also there are the dissimilarities which make every one distinct and special. Just as no two people are the same, the same goes for churches, and so on my journey over I find myself wondering, 'What's it going to be like?'
On both these occasions, but in different ways, there was that mixture of excitement and expectation. Sometimes the expectation can be unrealistic, and I'm left with concern that minister and church are being set up for failure. But conversely, if you can't get excited and positive about the future that God seems to have called you to, then it would all be a bit grim!
Inductions vary from the formal to pretty relaxed. Whatever, I bring a note of seriousness. This is an occasion when there needs to be some gravitas as well as celebration - this is a holy moment where minister and people covenant before God. And this is a moment that needs to be remembered, especially in the testing times that will surely come.
The preaching can be inspirational, and I find that by the time the induction season begins to lighten I'm grateful for a different sort of Saturday afternoon, but grateful too for the nourishment I've received. Rarely do I preach, but I make notes for the next time I'm asked to!
I heard someone say recently that most sayings seem to be attributed either to Spurgeon or Churchill. I thought of that today as I heard that Churchill said, 'Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.' It sounds the sort of thing Churchill would have said, although I've never read him and only heard him quoted.
The declaration of induction and the blessing is a high point for me, especially as I or the congregation say the words of the Aaronic blessing. Always it feels awesome. I'm going to post on benedictions so I'll come back to this.
And then there's the ubiquitous tea that follows. I heard a great story about Robert Runcie, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who gave the advice, 'Don't eat anything that doesn't have McVities written on it.' Another piece of wisdom handed on to those of us who attend these occasions regularly, 'Don't touch the egg sandwiches'. I have to say that the teas are nearly always noteworthy and so far I've had no ill-effects, although I tend to have the minimum and save myself for the curry that's in prospect for the evening. Talking of which I need to order it or I'll be out of favour with the rest of the family.