Last Sunday afternoon Gary and I went to the ordination service of my friend Dianne. Dianne and I went through CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) together six years ago. We became good friends and have kept in touch through the years. Dianne's journey has been an interesting one through the Episcopal Church to the United Church of Christ. She was ordained a United Church of Christ Pastor and currently works as a chaplain in a United Methodist care center. She is a fellow dog lover and I have always thought that we were kindred spirits.
The service (what we saw of it) was beautiful. We got lost on the way, which was the cause of much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the car. We arrived at the church just in time for the ordination itself. The most moving part of the service was the invitation for all present to lay hands on each other so we were all, in effect, laying hands on Dianne. It was an intimate and personal service ~ very different from ordination in the United Methodist Church.
My reflection on Dianne's ordination, though, has caused me to realize that I have not written much here about my own ordination coming up on June 8th. My ordination exam was back in October. You may remember that as being a very quiet time on my blog. I had fully convinced myself that I would not pass my ordination exam on my first try, so when I did pass I was completely unprepared. I wondered, am I really ready? Did the Board make a mistake? Interestingly, I believe I went through a time of shock and then grief when I learned I had passed the exam. Grief may be a strange reaction to accomplishing something I had worked so hard to achieve.... yet what I went through felt very much like grief. Grief over ending my 'time of preparation,' my novitiate, so to speak. Now it is time to take on authority (my authority? the church's authority? God's authority?) and live into it.
Several months have passed since then and now I do feel that the Board made the right decision and that I am ready. Ready for what? I'm not quite sure. But with God's strength and the support of the body of Christ, I will face whatever comes. While ordination in the United Methodist Church does not allow for the collective laying on of hands, as Dianne experienced in her ordination, I know I will feel the touch of all the hands that have reached out to me in love, support and encouragement through the years as I kneel at the altar. It is only through the touch of all those hands that I will make it to that altar in the first place. Thanks be to God!