WHY did a photo taken outside St Albans Cathedral prompt complaints on social media – and end up in the national press?

Simple. The photo showed the Bishop of Hertford with a group of newly-licensed Christian ministers, and they were leaping in the air.

The Bishop, Michael Beasley, was snapped several inches off the ground, and one of the other ministers had leapt even further upwards. Quite some feat.

One Oxfordshire vicar described it as “just nonsense that makes people looks silly.” Another cleric said it showed the Church of England trying too hard to look “relevant in the modern world.”

The debate intrigued The Guardian newspaper who featured it on their front page. The story was picked up by national radio.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, the photo caught my eye when I first saw it as an eye-catching, joyful image captured well by the lens of Arun Kataria, of St Albans diocese. In one photo, it summed up the celebration that the new ministers feel at finally being licensed.

From experience, I know that it takes many years of discussion, evaluation, on-the-job experience, study and prayer to reach the point of being licensed or ordained. The pressures impact both the candidate and their family.

Once the solemnity of the Cathedral service is over, it’s time to celebrate with family and friends. And that’s what the image showed.

Jesus enjoyed parties, dining with friends, being in lively company. He would recognise the sacrifice and commitment that the ministers had made to reach the point of licensing. And he’d have been celebrating too.

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