God Got a Hold of Me

On Sunday afternoon I was ordained into Christian ministry of the United Church of Christ. It was a wonderful service, well-attended by both my home congregation and the congregation I am serving, in addition to a large part of my family. To look over the congregation to give the benediction and see people from my entire life gathered in one place was wonderful. The gathering reminded me of my wedding in some ways.

The pastor of my home church preached, and he was in rare form on that afternoon. There are two things about his sermon that struck me in particular.

First, he kept stating that I would be a 'keeper of the word of God and its integrity.' In my mind I linked this to one of the ordination vows in which I promised to 'remain faithful to the truth of the gospel while maintaining the peace of the church.' No small task, I'd say. But this is what I took keeping the word of God and its integrity to be. As a minister of Word and Sacrament, the integrity of both is something with which I must always be concerned. What a fearful and exciting call!

Second, the highlight of the sermon that you could tell he was so proud of, was his accurate description of my call journey (and most people's, I'd venture) as a wrestling match, recalling the story of Jacob at the riverbank. I've used the wrestling description many times when referring to how to approach scripture and how my faith journey has progressed, so I was in complete agreement.

God got a hold of me, he said. When God calls, God finally gets a hold of us and we respond. At the end of the day when we are finished wrestling we may be walking with a limp, but we also walk in God's call for us. God and I have had some knock down drag out matches before, and we probably will again. I am thankful that God got a hold of me, and I'm also thankful that God is always up for another round. It keeps me limber and honest, two things I need to be to maintain the gospel's integrity.

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