I wonder how many people there are out there who think that the possession of a piece of plastic around the neck and the prefix 'Revd' make for a privileged class of people?
I wonder if they also realise just how right they are if they think that and also wonder if they realise that they are more than likely right for all the wrong reasons?
The reality is that privilege means that one gets invited to things that others generally don't as what appears to be a matter of habit and as a mark of who the person is. After all, if you're one of those suitably enobled people you get invited to stuff all the time - this is indeed privilege and preferment.
If you're one of those rare people who have won a medal in some major sporting arena, or perhaps in some major arena of conflict then you will also get yourself invited to things - So if you're Mo Farrar of Johnson Beharry VC, you can expect those invitations to select gatherings and amazing functions and happenings to fall through the letterbox all the time I I guess.
But if you think that's the all the case because you have that wonderful 'Revd' sellotaped to your business card then you have got the wrong sort of privilege in mind; after all, I haven't been invited to much in the way of gala functions, state balls, celebrity-filled junkets or the like in all of my time doing the job.
BUT - We are indeed privileged, and it goes like this:
I have been privileged to sit by the bed of a person who is departing this life and have had the privilege of helping their last moments in this world have shape, meaning and within the pain - a dignity.
I have been privileged to sit with those who have lost a loved one and help them come to terms with their loss, finding meaning, reason, hope and solace in the situation before them. Sometimes I have been able to bring a perspective of the person's life and to see within the haphazard jumble of life's events a consistency and qualities that closeness to them has previously obscured.
I have been privileged, as I was today, to find myself in a crematorium (or at a graveside) and, in the company of the deceased and their loved ones find before us someone whose life was to be not only celebrated but also given thanks for - even when they have left earlier than my 87 year average!
I have been privileged to celebrate life coming into the world and to give thanks for it in blessing and baptism services - often at times when those bringing the child knew only that they wanted to have God involved even when they didn't understand fully what that might mean (another privilege as I get to explain guilt, love, grace, sacrifice and relationship as found in Jesus, the Christ, and the cross).
I am privileged to have eaten out with the homeless on many occasions, sharing a sandwich and a brew as I find out who the image of the invisible God is made visible in!
I am privileged to be invited to dinners, but as there's no such thing as a free meal, that comes with saying grace (another privilege which I'd pay for - and with mess dinners - I do!).
The list could go on for a lot longer (are you still awake?) but I'll stop here (or shall I mention weddings, school assemblies, chaplaincies, marriage counselling, prayer ministry, preaching, church, worship and the rest? No, thought not ;-) ).
Suffice to say I am more privileged than perhaps many of you out there might think.