Lord willing, I will be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in just eleven days. As we get closer to the day that I thought would never come, I am eager and anxious. A decade ago, I would not have imagined myself to have the discipline, focus, and desire to complete all the steps required by the Book of Order; nor would I have dreamed about returning to school to complete a MDiv degree at seminary. The Holy Spirit sometimes pushes us in weird places.
A decade ago, I was firmly in the tribe of youth worker. I was adamant that seminary was not in my future. I was stubbornly sure that youth ministry was my calling. I had a chip on my shoulder about ordination. You don’t need to be ordained to live into what God is calling you to do with your life. That was true then, and I still know it to be true now. Strangers, church members, friends, and an annoyingly persistent older brother continually nudged me to consider more schooling and taking the next steps.
I don’t recall a light bulb moment. With me it was more of a dimmer switch slowly adjusted to bring more light to my understanding of vocation. Through Winterset and then back to my roots in Cherokee, I realized I was yearning to do more in the church. I did not graduate from youth ministry. I did, however, realize that I wanted to be able to serve communion and baptize people. I also acknowledged the thirst for more knowledge about God and the church.
The three years of seminary and the four years under care of the presbytery of Prospect Hill feel like a blur. I am a better person for both tracks towards ministry. I’m still unpacking all I’ve learned from classes, conversations, and guidance. As I study the latter part of Hebrews 11 and the first few verses of Hebrews 12 for Sunday’s sermon, I’m mindful of the people that God has used to shape me and to prepare me for this calling.
The cloud of witnesses include flesh and blood friends and teachers, yet also friends who live in the cloud of my computer. Family has been incredibly supportive of this journey and I don’t think I would have made it through school and all the meetings without the encouragement from my husband, Steve.
I’m humbled by the support and love from people spanning all parts and times of my life. I look forward to celebrating my ordination on August 21. More so, I look forward to the coming years when I will be able to live into the calling God has given me. I look forward to taking on the responsibilities that our Book of Order lists for Teaching Elders (fancy talk for Minister.) I’ll end with the paragraph that explains the role of teaching elder. Some of the phrases are so beautiful and I am eager to officially take on this role.
Teaching elders shall in all things be committed to teaching the faith and equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4:12.) … When they serve as preachers and teachers of the Word, they shall preach and teach the faith of the church, so that the people are shaped by the pattern of the gospel and strengthened for witness and service. When they serve at font and table, they shall interpret the mysteries of grace and lift the people’s vision toward the hope of God’s new creation. When they serve as pastors, they shall support the people in the disciplines of the faith amid the struggles of daily life. When they serve as presbyters, they shall participate in the responsibilities of governance, seeking always to discern the mind of Christ and to build up Christ’s body through devotion, debate, and decision. –G-2.0501