This past weekend I was ordained a Christian minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I spent a lot of time researching, planning, and organizing the service, not sure what all went into or, for that matter, “came out of” a service of ordination. I began to sense that it would be a meaningful, moving, and life-shifting event, but I could not have anticipated just how wonderfully it would unfold.
First, planning the service with the help, dedication, and celebratory spirit of folks from Community Christian Church was itself a life-giving endeavor. Many folks worked together with creative ideas and a firm commitment to make the event as joyous and meaningful as possible. Kay, as the church’s ordination committee chair, worked long and hard to orchestrate numerous aspects of the service. Her leadership and diligence left me profoundly grateful.
Second, experiencing the ordination service with so many voices and persons from different parts of my life was tremendously healing. I expressed this in my brief remarks. Many times, as a student, pastor, and husband, I felt stretched and disconnected. I balanced numerous roles and responsibilities, and at times commitments conflicted and competed. I confided to friends and family that I often felt dis-integrated. The communities in which I worked and served overlapped, at times, but felt very distinct. I struggled to be a pastor, not an academician, at church. I struggled to be a husband and friend, and not a pastor, to Rebecca. And I struggled to student, and not be insecure in my ignorance, at school.
At the ordination service people from all these different dimensions of my life came together to testify to my readiness to be an ordained minister. While my struggles are surely not over, there was something healing and whole-making that happened for me when diverse hands prayed over me. The Spirit of God was truly at work in “making me” through those hands.
Third, the gifts I received were unexpectedly rich. I knew that a few folks would say words about me. I was part of the planning of the service, so I also knew about the gifts which represent the office of ministry. I never imagined that some of those material gifts would be so creatively given (a personal, hand crafted chalice and paten, a stole reflecting the stained glass of the church sanctuary, a wonderful collection of photos from my time with the youth of the church, etc). I did not anticipate the beautiful, inspiring, and empowering words spoken about me and charged to me.
After this whole experience I feel uplifted and built up. I’ve always considered myself a pastor, but the ordination service has affected me in a way that deepens and enriches my self-understanding. I am a person profoundly shaped and molded by the people I’ve loved and who love me. I am a person with an important and challenging call: to minister to the people of God with the grace of God. May it be so. Amen.