Hidden in the heart of today’s Office of Readings is the episcopal motto of the first bishop of Christchurch John Joseph Grimes.
Bishop Grimes was born in East London in 1842 and was educated in England, France and Ireland before his ordination as a priest when he taught English and Classics in Ireland and in Louisiana USA.
Priest historian Neil Vaney writes of the young Grimes that “one is struck by the huge diversity of roles he had held by the age of forty: teacher, pastor, religious formator and community leader, in a great variety of different settings and diverse cultures.” Read Neil Vaney’s article at this link.
Its not difficult to imagine how the successful 45 year old Fr. Grimes felt on receiving word in 1887 that he had been appointed as bishop of Christchurch New Zealand.
He accepted the appointment and chose as his motto Si Venis Mecum Vadam.
In chapter four of the Old Testament book of Judges Deborah the prophetess sends Barak the military commander into battle. Barak is nervous and answers her: “If you come with me, I will go; if you do not come with me, I will. not go.”
Certainly Grimes like Barak was being called to leave what was familiar, known and reliable to head into the unknown. Like Barak, almost 3000 years later John Joseph Grimes accepted the call to risk embrace the adventure with Christ expressing his faith in the motto:
“If you come with me, I will go.”