Saturday, January 23, 2010


Every year on this date, I listen to or watch my ordination service. I don't know how much longer I'll keep up this tradition, but at least for now it seems fitting.

When I do this, I especially pay attention to two parts.

First, I grab my UCC Book of Worship, and read along with the vows. This helps me reconnect with the promises that I made five years ago. I reaffirm them, and wonder how well I'm doing at keeping them. The promise that has stood out to me in years' past has been the one to minister impartially. That's been a difficult one to swallow at times, I must admit. But I've done my best to honor it. I read along, and I hear myself speaking the words over and over: "I will, relying on God's grace."

Relying on God's grace. I have certainly had to do that. In moments both strange and routine, both joyful and frustrating, "relying on God's grace" has applied in each instance. More recently, as I've pondered what it takes to be with a church for the long haul while still engaging in vibrant, creative ministry, relying on God's grace is sometimes all I can do.

The second part to which I pay special attention is the sermon. My home church's pastor preached at that service, and said many things that have stuck with me these past five years. Today, however, even leading up to this annual tradition of mine, one quote has already entered my mind:
If this feels like a coronation...get over it.
Again, there have been many moments over five years that have reminded me of this fact. I've found humility in my limited knowledge, in times when I've needed to rely on others with gifts that I don't have, in the reality of the Church's earthly situation, and in my own sense of call to this or any other ministry setting.

Over and over and over, I've been reminded that ordained ministry isn't about me. Over and over and over, I've been reminded that I did not receive this calling to be a king, but to be a servant.

Five years ago today, I celebrated something that has marked me ever since. I haven't always understood it or appreciated it. But I've forged ahead, knowing that it's bigger than me.

And, relying on God's grace, I am thankful.