It truly was an amazing Ordination Service.
Hundreds of United Methodists, a great cloud of witnesses, gathered together to honor and celebrate those who had bravely stepped forward to answer God’s call on their lives and enter ordained ministry.
It was such a powerful and moving service that I wouldn’t have been surprised if a white dove had descended from the ceiling. Because the Holy Spirit was surely present… hovering, and filling, and moving, and working. Everyone there could feel it.
In the Bishop’s hands as she knelt to wash the feet of those newly ordained, the Holy Spirit was there.
In the songs we sang. and the music we heard, the Holy Spirit was there.
In the babies and children who clapped their hands, the Holy Spirit was there.
In those who watched from the balcony, who heard God calling them into ministry too, and who made their way up to the altar in tears, the Holy Spirit was there.
It was the same Holy Spirit who hovered over the chaos of creation; the same Holy Spirit who came down upon Jesus 2000 years ago in the River Jordan; the same Holy Spirit who showed up powerfully thirty years ago, when my husband was ordained.
Do you believe that God has called you to the life and work of ordained ministry? the Bishop asked.
I do so believe came the unanimous response.
I do so believe that too.
I believe that God called each of you.
I believe that each of you who knelt before the Bishop have already knelt before God’s throne.
I believe that each of you who had hands laid upon you in prayer already have God’s own hand powerfully laid upon your life.
I believe that for every person who hugged and clapped and cried for you, there are already a thousand angels singing for joy for you.
Because I know that you, like my husband, have been called, and set apart and sent for God’s Holy work, and you entered the ministry because you have a yearning to mend broken hearts, and bind up the wounded, and try to make a difference in this hurting world. I know this.
But I’m afraid for you.
I’m afraid lest you become one of the wounded. I’m afraid that as you rise to your feet and leave that spirit-filled sanctuary behind, the world and (dare I say it) your churches might steal your joy, and cause you to question your call.
And if that day should come, I pray that you can find your sanctuary again, that you will remember that it is Almighty God who has called you, that you will still be able to feel God’s Holy Spirit strengthening and sustaining and upholding you, and that when you hear words that discourage and deter, the truth of God’s words to you will be louder in your ear and stronger in your heart….
It was a privilege to see you ordained. May God bless you every day and fill you with the Holy Spirit as you seek to make disciples, preach the Word, and answer that wonderful call on your life.
You are brave.
And you will make a difference in the world.