Leviticus 8 – The Rites of Ordination
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Take Aaron and his sons with him, the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull of sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; 3 and assemble the whole congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Look at those faces! They shine with excitement and joy. These are my classmates and me on our ordination/commissioning day. There was no ram, no bull, no anointing. There was blessing and hands laid on, there was prayers and promises, there was vesting and bread and wine shared. This day that was the culmination of a multitude of hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams that began with a relentless call into ordered ministry. We came to this day after discernment, study, internship and multiple interviews to determine our fitness for ministry in the United Church of Canada. A few short weeks from this day we began ministry in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
We gathered again at the end of May this past year to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We spoke of our respective experiences in ministry: single point, multiple point, rural, urban, conference minister, interim, part-time, shared ministry. We all expressed the idea that when we were first ordained we thought that after 10 years we would have figured it all out by now. None of us do. We spoke of the joys, the challenges, the frustrations. We wondered what the next 10 years had in store for us. All of us felt the weight of ministry, of expectations, of too many things to do in too little time, of weekly sermon preparation, of administration, of leaking roofs, of sickness and dying, of fundraising and community building, of presbytery and conference work, of limited resources of all kinds. All of these can seem overwhelming and take a lot of the joy out of ministry.
One of the blessings of sabbatical is that I am able to have a time out from the responsibility of weekly worship, pastoral care and administration, to ‘get up on the balcony’ and take at look at my ministry and my relationship with my congregation and my relationship with God.
One of my fellow participants in the Atlantic Jubilee Program is a RC Sister; part of the requirement of her order is that she has to take a 7 day silent retreat each year. As an extravert, this was sometimes challenging for her. Sometime in the last year, she realized that she didn’t ‘have’ to do a silent retreat, she GOT to do a silent retreat. In the midst of her busy life as a university chaplain, she has the opportunity each year to reflect with her spiritual director on her relationship with God.
That started me reflecting on the many aspects of ministry that I GET to do:
- Research and write a sermon AND have people listen to it each week.
- Experiment with different ways to worship.
- Be present at life’s transitional moments: birth, death, sickness, anniversaries and bring an awareness of God’s presence at these times.
- Lead study groups where people can question, explore and wrestle with their faith alongside others who are doing the same.
- Be present in the community as a person of faith.
- Be given time, through designated Study Leave weeks to nurture my own spirit and hone my skills.
- Participate in the work of the wider church.
- Have a flexible schedule.
I hope I remember all of these the next time the roof leaks.