I was a basket case the day of my own ordination into ministry in the United Church of Christ five years ago. I was stressed about whether or not everyone would show up. I was stressed about making my visiting family comfortable. I was stressed about having enough bread for communion… and on and on and on …
Instead of stressing all these details, I now look forward to attending ordinations. This past week, I got to do that twice. On Sunday, Aug. 2, I was able to participate in the ordination of my dear friend, David Robberts-Mosser at First Congregational Church UCC of Battle Creek, Michigan. Just yesterday, I participated in the ordination of a new friend, Stephanie Haskins, at Plymouth Congregational Church UCC in Des Moines, Iowa.
Because I was so crazed the day of my own ordination, I really couldn’t tell you the exact nature of the vows I took. I know I said yes in all the right places. But, what I said yes to probably wasn’t so clear to me in the moment.
So now I always pay attention to the vows during ordinations. I’m reminded that I declared to my church and to God that I am called to ordained ministry, would be diligent in my private prayers and study of scripture, to preaching and teaching the gospel, administering the sacraments and exercising pastoral care and a few more things. Hearing that now serves as a check-up of sorts for me. I run through the list in my head and ask myself just how faithful I have been to all of those promises I’ve made.
But, my real favorite part of an ordination happens just after these vows – the laying on of hands. At this time, all ordained clergy and often family and friends of the ordinand are invited to come forward and “lay on hands” to recognize that person’s particular call and the call of all faithful women and men throughout the ages. By putting my hand on the ordinand’s shoulder and feeling others touch my shoulder, I am reminded of the intricate connections on which the church is built. I am reminded that people have been doing this long before me and will be doing ministry long after I leave this earth. It reminds me that those details I stress about don’t matter nearly as much as I think they do. I am humbled.
So, don’t stress out today. Just remember that we are all called to serve God – not just as ordained ministers, but in many, many ways. I hope you will all reflect on your sense of call today.