Tonight I offer
prayers for the whys
prayers for the not agains
prayers for the dying
prayers for the dead
prayers for the angry
prayers for the scared
prayers for the healers
prayers for the investigators
prayers for the grieving
prayers for the bystanders
prayers for the perpetuators of hate
prayers for the unhelpful rhetoric
prayers for the politicians
prayers for news outlets
prayers for our faith communities
prayers for the gun lovers
prayers for the gun lobbyists
prayers for the peacemakers
prayers for change
prayers for hope…
Ten years ago, I was ordained as a minister of the Gospel in a nondenominational church. For many years before that, I was serving in pastoral roles, but was not given the recognition of the title, “pastor.”
Some of us, like yours truly, take a long and winding road to get to ordination, partly because we don’t believe we really are supposed to be in the ministry. Or we believe the people who tell us that we “can’t do that” because of our identity.
What took me so long to become ordained?
I had to believe deep down to my toes that, yes indeed, God Called me. And then I had to speak up and say, “I’m ready. Let’s do this.”
My ordination day was shared with my friend Glenn. It was a party! A luau. A day with friends and family that is still, ten years later, very precious to me. Some of the friends have moved to other churches (or I have) and we don’t see much of each other any more. But their affirmation launched me and their prayers and commissioning spurred me onward.
I’m grateful for every opportunity offered to me over the years. Since the 1980s I’ve been active in ministry in many capacities. Directing choirs. Teaching classes. Writing courses, devotional guides, seminars and workshops. Administration. Leading worship. Marrying, baptizing, and burying ’em. Committees and council meetings. Mentoring and commissioning others. Going to seminary. Preaching. Protesting. Praying. Studying. Being an advocate. Standing up for the rights of the under-served and the disenfranchised. Working with like-minded Christian feminists. An ally, mom, wife, sister, and friend. Being a chaplain, counselor and midwife to the close-to-dying.
Each task has been something that, at the time, I did my best work possible. I was up late at night, or working through dinner. It meant a lot of driving, listening, and praying. Many times I messed up, teared up, or wanted to give up. But every time, the Call of the Spirit was louder than my whines.
Funny how that works…
I’ve served in churches, hospitals, out-patient clinics, sidewalks, long-term care facilities and homes. I have handed out tissues, made hard phone calls, and stood up for someone’s rights. Many times, I was the one who could hear the questions behind the words. Other times, I was afraid to be bold and confront the heartache that was as yet unnamed.
Then there’s the unexpected tasks of ministry… Unclogging toilets, sinks and floor drains. Photocopying, collating and stapling. Buying helium balloons. Calling caterers. Dealing with vandalism. Standing up to church bullies. And an infamous run to the thrift store with donated items.
God called. I answered. Sometimes with tears. Sometimes with laughter. Always with this sense of “Who me? WOW! Yes! Me!”
Other times, God said “no… this Call is not for you.” And there have been tears and questions and a struggle to trust that a “no” from the Holy is a good thing. (I’m still working on that.)
So it’s been ten years… already? And I’m up for whatever God has in store for ten more.
If you’ve read this far, you get a medal. Or maybe a cookie. Thank you for persevering with me in life (and in blogging!)
A montage of ministry pictures from the last ten years:
Wonder Woman preaches, teaches and sometimes does the laundry…
Sisters of the heart.
Protesting at the Supreme Court
Who us? You don’t want to know.
Supporting my JCC family.
Standing up and speaking up.
“When I grow up, I’m going to be a pastor, too!”
Archbishop of St. Arbucks!
Groovy dude I married.
With beloved daughters
For my sisters… and my cis-ters!
Family love around my neck.
Fear of heights. Confirmed.
Marching on the White House
God is so big and I so small.
The pastors as cleaning crew.
Children of the world.
Protest at the White House
Clergy counter protesting Westboro.
Poignant moment after a patient’s death.
Here I am, Lord.
At times I’m bruised, confused and little deflated,
Or curious, enchanted and invigorated.
But most of all,
Lord of all,
My heart sings with a song of Alleluia’s
And my clumsy feet still dance with praise!
I can’t imagine doing anything else.
But Holy One,
That’s why we do it.
Together! Soli Deo gloria!
Over at RevGalBlogPals I wrote a thing… you can find it here (but here’s a sample…)
Without subsidies, they will not be able to afford to keep him at home. His daughter shrugged and said that it will end up costing the government more to put him in a nursing home, because he has no financial resources. “What’s the sense in that?” she asks me. “If we keep him at home, it will cost one-third to a half of the monthly cost of a facility.”
I appreciate your taking the time to read and reflect on this with me.
Today I took a quick trip into downtown DC, to the plaza in front of the US Supreme Court building. Before I started my rounds with my hospice patients, I put on my collar and this stole. The stole was made by refugee artists from Amani Ya Juu. It was the first stole given to me when I was ordained, and has a special place in my heart.
(Make sure you visit their website — see the beautiful things they have created, and read their stories!)
The artisans of Amani Ya Juu use their love of African textiles, their commitment to their community thriving, and their skills in creating beautiful items. My stole is just one of the items they make. But the beauty of their craft is just part of what I have learned from these women.It is their example of faithfulness in the face of horrible injustice. It is how they move past those experiences and find “the peace that surpasses all understanding.” They have learned to survive life’s twists and turns, and to make sure their community thrives with them.
It is this selflessness, this desire deep within them to serve others that inspires me in my ministry. I do it so imperfectly… but their example challenges me.
So I stood on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court this morning, with flurries and a stiff, cold breeze. There, I gathered with many other faith leaders to speak out…
…for those who are unjustly detained
…for those who are denied due process in our courts
…for the attack on our civil liberties — ALL of our civil liberties — by those who refuse to obey court injunctions, who defy our Constitution, and who act for selfish gain.
…for eviscerating the progress made under Loretta Lynch in defending the rights of all persons of color. #BlackLivesMatter
I am compelled to respond because I believe the God I serve demands it. I am compelled to respond because I believe in the worth and value of my fellow humans. And I am compelled to respond because we have done enough waiting. We have given enough “chances.” The actions over the last ten days are sufficient.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
I am angry. Angry that the powerful do not use their power for the common good. Angry that elected officials are not governing in a way that benefits ALL of us — our country, our world, our future.
I am motivated. I have called, written and tweeted my elected officials. I have encouraged them to stand firm and defend our Constitution. I have pleaded with them to uphold “liberty and justice FOR ALL.”
On Sunday, I led this prayer… and I stand by every word, knowing that God will be with us as we stand up to injustice and bigotry.
LET US PRAY.
Lord God, we gather in your Presence, aware of your care for us and for the world. We ask for your Spirit to guide our words and our worship this morning.
Gracious God, the hungry are all around us. May we faithfully share of our pantries and cupboards, our money and our time, that they will be bountifully fed. Lord, in your mercy… Hear our prayers.
Lord of all, we pray for our elected officials, that they will serve the people and defend and protect our Constitution. We hear the words of the spiritually empty, the proud, and those who abuse their power. We pray you will burden their hearts with your Truth and convict them by your Holy Spirit. Lord, in your mercy… Hear our prayers.
God of all nations, we pray for those in legal limbo, whose immigration status is wrongfully blocked, who are doctors and teachers, researchers and laborers, parents and children. May your justice prevail and may your angels take charge of them and liberate them. Lord, in your mercy… Hear our prayers.
Healer of the broken-hearted, we your children humbly repent for the ways we have not cared for the aliens and the strangers in our midst. Forgive us for our short-sightedness and selfishness. Give us courage to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. May our actions make a difference as we join with others who follow Christ. Lord, in your mercy… Hear our prayers.
We pray all this in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
I do not understand the whys and breakdown of common decency that led to our country’s situation today. I lean on hope in a God who is more powerful than the power-obsessed. I am resting in that Peace from Above.
Pray with me, friends…
We must stick together and believe in God’s love for us and for all humanity.