So, the rumors are true – this girl is getting ordained! It seems like a pretty simple sentence but behind it is a lifetime or two of wading through what it means to be a woman of faith, intellect, spirit and questioning. And it’s at once a hard and good story. But for now I think its just good to acknowledge that I have found myself amongst some of the clearest, most loving, down-to-earth-real-people Christians and have found my home. I have found myself amongst women and men who see no issue with being thoughtful, considered, reasoned, informed, passionate about the state of our theology and our world. These are people who at the same time are deeply prayerful, trusting, seeking, receptive, responsive and open to the Everywhere Presence of God and the proclamation of a good news Kingdom. I am in a place where being a woman is in no way a liability or an indulgence. I am in a place where Jesus is pointed to with wonder. I am home. This is a home that has good bones and I have been wandering slowly into it, spreading out my stuff, wondering how to best let this little corner of it reflect the reconciling spirit of Christ that dwells within me and within all of us in this community. Again, that’s a sentence that doesn’t quite portray the depth and challenge those words hold. But I am here.
ANYHOO, This is a good news story and an unexpected one. A year ago I did not have a CLUE that this was on the horizon. My mom had just passed away and I was deeply hurting, although there was also present a sense of “enough of this” and I was starting to pray about how I might start teaching and leading more intentionally. And then the way the opportunity opened up had some pain , some conflict, present in it’s circumstances. That’s not lost on me – this enterprise of “church” is deeply grooved with our brokenness as much as it is deeply held by God’s faithfulness.
So, for those who aren’t familiar, the CRC takes its theology very seriously (a good thing, really, believe me). And so they take the examinations of their pastors very seriously. I was examined on a stage by dozens of men and a few women, and asked questions that I sometimes had the answers to but also sometimes I couldn’t get my own self across to my knowledge and wisdom in that excruciating moment. It was hard, humiliating and had all the potential in the world to sow a deep rift of distrust of myself and of others. But in that, and through the affirmation of a whole slew of mentors in this church, I realized that even there, even in an examination to determine if I was truly called to this life, church and calling, it wasn’t about me and my abilities to wow anyone, or to prove myself. It was about He who calls us, me, into being. And so even there, God made his “letting go” path, the actual calling we are all called to, known in a deeply visceral and ultimately redemptive way. Again, it’s a long story….a good one I think though. And again, this is not lost on me.
So this Sunday, November 26 I will officially be ordained in my church, The Road Church. We will meet in our little chapel, bringing our bagels with us. People I know well and some I hardly know will be there. We will sing some songs and someone will talk for a bit about this way of Jesus. There will be words and prayers. There will be coffee and I will go home and celebrate with wine. And it will be a good, normal day.
I have no idea what this means in some ways. I still am a bit in the “well, huh!” phase of this. But I do know this–that it is God who works within us to will and to do according to his good purpose – not to create a world of people afraid of other people, not to create a world of us and them, not to create a world where we are afraid of beauty, fun, needs, difference, or people who challenge our understandings of the way we think things are but to create a world in which HIS WAY of life, that which was intended from the beginning and carried out into completion is OUR WAY. The way of love, mercy, justice, humility, reconciliation, redemption. It is the way of being seen and being known. It is the way of sacrifice and covenant and is a whole earth life long. It is the way of wholeness and shalom – of the flourishing of all of creation, not just some of us. It is the way of INCARNATION—the way of Him who let go of all power to enter into real life with real love. Not one inch of this creation is not loved, known, brought in close.
More than a couple people have mentioned to me “You seem happier this year.” And I think that’s because I get to talk about and even practice these things that have been building in me for years – And when I talk I get to point to Jesus who is “bringing unity to all things in heaven and earth.” (Ephesians 1:10) and hopefully draw people up to the table with love and care and mercy and good laughter–and it will be my kids causing the ruckus in the corner. I am full and I am happy and I am busy and scattered and unsure too. I am, as they say, #allthefeels
But… to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than anything I could ever ask for or imagine, I am looking. And so here I am getting ordained to minister and pastor and teach and lead and mostly follow, follow, follow – God help me.
And now that they have me, they won’t get rid of me.