On the 25th Anniversary of an Ordination
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
On my first day of Divinity School, I knew I liked Bill because neither one of us wanted to get our feet washed in a plastic paint bucket. Nor did we want to sing Kumbaya. And sadly, as our worst fears about seminary were confirmed, we were expected to do both.
Fast forward to Bill’s ordination day, twenty-five years ago, when I hosted his post-ordination party. Bill’s many friends, old and new – some of them brand new, as in, he just met them in a bookstore five minutes ago – added to an ever fluctuating guest list who eventually made their way to my sweltering grad student apartment where they inhaled half baked frozen hors d’oeuvres, cheap wine and cat fur.
Also in attendance were Bill’s Catholic family who had made the “long” (90 minute) trip from New York to New Haven which Bill had probably told them was “somewhere out in the country.” They looked like they weren’t too sure about any of this Protestant ministry stuff. Was this legit? At the ordination and the party afterwards, they seemed to look warily around each corner for Bill’s impending and inevitable arrest at the hands of the Vatican secret service, under charges of impersonating a priest.
Twenty-five years later, no one doubts Bill’s calling and no one questions his place in the church. Twenty-five years later, his family, his friends, (both old and brand new) and a whole lot of church members can rejoice that twenty-five years ago, Bill had the nerve to be himself – to say “No,” to Kumbaya and foot washing, but “Yes” to the call to be ordained.
Dear God, thank you for all the ministers who say “Yes” to your call, and to the family, friends and church members who say “Yes” too. Amen.
Lillian Daniel is the Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ, Dubuque, Iowa, and the author of When “Spiritual But Not Religious” is Not Enough.