Four years ago my friend and colleague led the congregation in the following song:
“Jeremiah was a bull frog
Was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him drink his [grape juice]
And he always had some mighty fine [grape juice]”
Tony was preaching at my ordination and the text I chose for that day is one of my favorites: the prophet Jeremiah’s call from Jeremiah, chapter 1. Naturally, when one thinks the book of Jeremiah, we think bull frog and so, Three Dog Night was sung in church. (And the G version, hence the grape juice over wine. Children where present.)
September 16, 2012 was only 4 years ago and though this isn’t a momentous anniversary, it still is. The last few years I’ve passed over this day, going about my business and work. Thanks to Facebook I was reminded of my ordination day this morning. I often don’t think about that day, I don’t know why. My ordination certificate hangs right above my desk, so I’m reminded but I haven’t reflected back.
The day I graduated high school and college was awesome and incredible. The day that hood went over my head and I was awarded my masters degree, no words can describe. The day I was ordained in the United Church of Christ was something else all together. Because that day was special, I should celebrate it in some way every year, like a wedding anniversary or birthday.
Today’s Friday 5 is a look back on that day, on the things that made that day special to me.
Number 1: The congregation sang Three Dog Night in church. I mean, come on!?!? Plus, the Call to Worship was part words and part singing by the youth and 2 girls. The girls sang the chorus of “Here I Am, Lord,” which is my favorite hymn. I get chills just thinking about that opening before the procession.
Number 2: Having my friends and family there. Tony and I went to seminary together and I asked him to preach. He shared in worship that morning and then preached the ordination service. Then he and I shared in serving communion. Such a blessing. My friends came in from the area and one even drove in from Indy. My family was present and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my parents or my grandmother prouder of me. (And my sister announced she was pregnant that weekend and along came my niece. Life would never be the same. I also baptized my other niece the following weekend, my first baptism as an ordained minister. Talk about God moments.)
Number 3: The Jeremiah text grounds me. After God calls Jeremiah to speak, Jeremiah says, “Truly I do not know how to speak.” I totally get where he’s coming from. Before accepting the call to ministry, I was unsure of my call, unsure of my ability to do ministry, unsure of my voice. People told me I was crazy, that I had gifts. It took lots of prayer, listening to those people and knowing that God will send and guide and help me with the words. I still go back to that text when I’m unsure.
Number 4: The Holy Spirit was present. I can’t describe it but through tears and laughter, the weight off my shoulders, I knew the Holy Spirit was present that day. Those colleagues and friends who were present affirmed my call to ministry. My family affirmed my call. The congregation affirmed my call. I got chills and this overwhelming sense of peace that afternoon. I told myself that after years of discerning and waiting and shakiness, I was at peace and it’s a peace I cannot describe. (I see a tattoo in my future, just small enough for me to read it, on my wrist, with the word peace, a reminder of my ordination and my call. One day…and I’ve been saying that for 4 years!)
Number 5: I’m The Rev.! I still can’t get over that. I have surreal moments when I go, “Say, what? I’m a minister?” There have been good days and bad, moments of joy and sorrow. There have been moments I’ve wanted to throw it all in and do something else. And yet, this is my call. I am Reverend. I am Pastor Amanda. I have a congregation I enjoy leading. I am at peace and happy with where God is guiding me.
“Here I am, Lord…Is it I, Lord? I will go Lord, if you lead me…I will hold your people in my heart.”