These are the words to the response of my favorite ordination vow. Will you seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love? I will with God’s help.
I cannot do any of this without God’s help.
There were no great women pastor role models for me growing up. In fact, there weren’t any bad ones either… There were no women ministers in my life until I was in seminary. When I told my mother, who was Southern Baptist at the time that I was going to seminary she said, “but Pastors are perfect, and you are far from perfect.”
I am far from perfect, no doubt about that, but I was called, yes, God calls imperfect humans, even me, to ministry.
Today is the tenth anniversary of my ordination. 1-0. A decade, I’ve been doing this best and worst job of my life.
It should be celebrated, marked, memorialized, honored. So here it is. 10 years ago today I sat in a pew in The Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green Kentucky, I was wearing a black Geneva robe with red piping. I watched at the commission of elders and ministers sat in the chancel. My dear friend and mentor, Rev. Judy Hockenberry, preached. My best friend gifted me with the words of Micah 6:8.
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God?
Well, God might not require more than that but the church certainly does! I have preached over 500 sermons in these last 10 years, countless funerals, and cried every time the bride walked down the aisle. I have broken the bread, blessed the cup, and poured the water. I have run to the hospital in the middle of the night, I have unclogged toilets, found the master switch, picked people up who have fallen (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), I have called 911 on more than one occasion. I have served communion while a woman died.
I have been in the room, holding the hands of people as they departed this world. I have held babies that are hours old, both that lived, and a few that did not. I have kept countless secrets, honored countless stories, loved and been welcomed over and over and over again into people’s lives. I have also disappointed, didn’t get the message, was “minutes late,” answered questions with “I don’t know”, and failed more times than I can recollect. I have fumbled over words at least 12 times in one scripture verse. It was Sunday…
But I hold true to my vows, my calling.
I don’t know what my life would be like without this call. I might still be married. I might be a “better” mother. I would definitely be a better musician, artist, and friend. I would have more time for charity work, possibly more money to give away, and make sure I had more time for “me.”
None of that matters, because I did receive this calling, and nothing will change that. I serve churches as their pastor, and these days 10 straight years in full time ministry is no small feat. In this day and age I have beaten the odds, most pastors leave ministry in the first 5 years after ordination (for women, it’s even less). It is even more rare that one would be able to serve churches full time out of seminary.
I am blessed, the honor has been mine. I will remember my vows, I will seek to serve the church with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. I certainly will, with God’s help.