So, now I’m ordained. Someone asked me on Sunday if I feel any different. My immediate thought was, “No,” but I paused before I answered and thought about it and said, “Yes, I guess I sort of do feel different.” He smiled. I think he appreciated that I took the time to answer him honestly, and he said, “Good. You deserve to.”
I’m not sure what I was expecting to feel like after ordination. Some have asked if I feel relieved. You would think I would feel relief. After all, the process has taken almost eight years to complete. I’ve been interviewed and approved by three different groups. I’ve submitted myself to psychological analysis, turned in hundreds of pages of theological writing, went through CPE, and graduated seminary. Along the way I have served at three churches, had various mentors, been criticized by anonymous letter, chastised by the mysterious “some people,” and made enough mistakes to put even Jesus’s limit of forgiveness (70 times 7) to test.
So you would think that I would stand here relieved. I’m not.
There is no relief. There is way too much work to do. If anything, I feel the weight of responsibility now more than ever. I have been charged by my Bishop before God, my Church, and my family, to do something. The world is a broken place, and there is so much work to be done.
I went to Peoria on Wednesday. I was accepted into membership by my brother and sister clergy on Wednesday afternoon. I was introduced to the conference on Thursday morning. I was ordained on Friday evening. I came back to Chenoa on Saturday and the world had not yet changed.
The oil was still pouring into the ocean. Wars over greed and power were still being fought. The divide between the rich and the poor was still growing. Children were still dying of curable diseases. Wayward souls were still wandering without knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ. Young people were still being influenced by the TV telling them they could only find happiness if they looked this way, and bought this product.
The building downtown was still crumbling. The food pantry across the street was still in need. The basement of our church was still a wasted space waiting to be turned into something wonderful. The meetings still had to be scheduled. The sermon on Sunday still had to be preached. The dishes still needed to be washed. So no, I don’t feel relieved.
I took vows on Friday night to work for the Kingdom of God. When I turned on the TV this morning I saw plain as day that it had not yet arrived. So no, I don’t feel relieved.
I took vows on Friday night to move onward toward Christian perfection. It didn’t take long for me this morning to realize I hadn’t made it yet. So no, I don’t feel relieved.
Instead, I feel empowered. I feel ordained by the Holy Spirit to go into the world and do something. I feel ordained by the Holy Spirit to equip the saints for ministry. I feel ordained by the Holy Spirit to teach and preach, to break bread with sinners, to heal the sick, to proclaim release to the captives, and to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So no, I don’t feel relieved.
I am empowered by God to do something. And you are too. Let’s get something done. And then, and only then, may we find relief.