Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reflections from Ordination Sunday

Laying on of hands during Ordination Prayer

I’m still giddy from the celebration of my ordination on Sunday, January 17, and quite honestly, I’m a little surprised by that.  There have been so many hoops to jump through to get to this point:  5 ½ years of education, three interviews, two lengthy applications, two congregational votes – meanwhile I’d been doing the job I was just ordained to do for the last year and eight months.  The cynical side of me wondered if folks would think this was just another ploy to get one of Nokesville’s famous potluck meals and some presents.

Silly, silly girl.  Have I learned nothing after all these years?

My very first class in seminary was Rituals and Reflections.  In that class we learned that the need for ritual is one of the basic human needs – every bit as real as the need for food, shelter and love.  Ritual is one of the ways we connect with one another, and it is a communal means of connecting with the Divine.

This weekend’s service reminded me of that in a humbling and breathtaking way.  And even though it was my ordination, I was not the only one moved to tears or to dancing by the Spirit.   

Flute and percussion as part of the choral anthem, "A New Song"
 Of the 148 people who attended, there were some who only found themselves in a church building for weddings or the occasional funeral.  There were others for whom formal religion had in some way injured or marginalized them or left them feeling cold and unwelcome.  And still they came – some from a very great distance.  

There were friends from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Tennessee and Mississippi and Maryland.  There were friends from my craft store and from different faith traditions and from no faith traditions.  In all, there were 14 Churches of the Brethren represented – from across 4 districts.

Pastor Yakubu Bakfwash of Graceway Church of the Brethren and John Shafer, Music Director of Oakton Church of the Brethren and member of the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements committee
This gathering of people, all of whom are dear to me, reflects our society.  I see many of them so rarely.  In all of my work over the last several years on building the community, I know that we are becoming more isolated and disconnected – from one another, from God and from a sense even of who we are.  

Sunday’s service reminded me of who I am – and I wish we could all have days like this.  Someone said it was like a “celebrity roast” – to which I responded “no it wasn’t – it was the opposite of that!”  
Someone else said it was like attending your funeral while you were still alive – to hear how the intersection of two lives enhanced life for both!

Hugs from my son
For me, and I think for many who witnessed it, it was a powerful reminder of how very NOT ALONE I am – we are.  God is and has always been with us – regardless of our wandering paths. 
God has placed angels alongside me in human skin – to encourage me and feed me and protect me and correct me and simply to laugh with me and love me!

Hugs from church leadership
This Ordination ritual recognized all of that – as well as my calling to share the Good News – God’s many blessings - with everyone else.  And, I loved how Jesus was so very present in every moment – in every picture.  

With Mid-Atlantic District Executive Gene Hagenberger

Praise the Lord!