Friday, June 6, 2008
Happy Anniversary to me! Four years ago today, at Community Christian Church in Kansas City, MO I was ordained. I love this picture of that event- this is just before the laying on of hands that made my call to ordained ministry official. My family is standing all around me- my proud mom to my left, my weeping dad to my right (next to my grandma- the matriarch and most trusted friend of my life). If you look closely you will see ordained clergy from my journey, lay people from my various churches, and even my little sister closest to me. It was an amazing day. I was most impressed by this laying on of hands that included the entire community, not just the ordained clergy (that is some radical Disciple's theology!). I love the message- the power of the Holy Spirit, the companionship of Jesus Christ is in each one of us- and the entire community was able to affirm my call at that moment. Notice I am smiling, the hands felt warm to me- but not as heavy as Barbara Brown Taylor describes. What I remember feeling the most was love. God's powerful affection for me- reflected in all these faces- what a moment. It was the most humble and the most proud I have ever felt in my life.
This Sunday I am preaching about covenant. That day God and I made a covenant. God promised to be faithful, and has not yet- and will never let me down. I promised to uphold the Gospel as best I could. And I struggle each day to be worthy of this call to ministry-but I can tell you I'm still in love. Despite all its flaws- I am in love with the church, and despite all their flaws- I am still in love with people. Miraculously, in spite of all my flaws- God is still in love with me. For that I am grateful. I still rejoice silently when I take communion- my thanksgiving is, "God, of all the jobs in the world- I'm so grateful you let me do this one."
The average tenure for an associate minister is 18 months. In our denomination after 5 years, around 36% of clergy will leave ordained ministry. And half of all seminary graduates are not in ministry after 3 years. And here I am, at the same church for four years with no plans to leave anytime soon. I am grateful that I have found my vocation and that as Buechner says,
"the world's deep hunger and my deep gladness" can meet.
Thank you to all who have nurtured me and given me hope for this journey. Thank you to my parents, my Sunday School teachers, and all the church members who have prayed for me over the years. Thank you to my mentors in ministry, and to the female ministers who showed me it could be done. Thank you to the Bethany Fellowships, that constantly revive my soul in ministry. And thank you to God. I am truly blessed. Happy Anniversary!