Two weeks ago, I was finally ordained into the church of my family, the PC(USA). I was surrounded by my family and friends, and stood at the table with 5 fabulous, badass women. Rev. Julie Emery and Rev. Sean Miller gave fabulous charges to myself and the church, Rev. Dr. Jan Edmiston preached a sermon that was simple yet moving and powerful, and Rev. Shawna Bowman painted the Spirit as she felt her moving that day. And the people of the church came OUT with the reception!
How many of you can say you had a rainbow, cross-shaped, stained glass cake for your ordination with pearls to decorate?!
You can watch it all here. It was a truly wonderful day and I am so grateful for everyone who was part of it.
Frankly, it took long enough and it was hard fought. It was often times an arduous journey; one I often questioned if I should even be on. Sometimes when things don’t happen after a while, you have to reevaluate and ask yourself, “Is this right for me? Am I really meant to be doing this? Or have I let me ambition and my own ego get in the way of seeing the forest for the trees?” ‘Cause that happens. To a lot of people. Especially folks in the church world.
I think that plenty of times my own ambition and ego did get in the way. And a lot of the time my own entitlement crept up there as well. But here I am, on the other side of ordination. And it feels real good to be here. But I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I didn’t ask the question, “Is this what the church needs right now? Is this the most important thing for this community?” I should have asked more questions like that.
The church as a whole is on this type of a journey. But how often have our church egos and ambitions led the way for our agendas to be the biggest church in town or have the grandest show of celebration at Easter, or boast the most millennials in our pews or have the tackiest VBS in the town? How often has our own entitlement as a church gotten in the way of asking the question: “Does our community really need this? Is this the thing that will help to make our town a little more like what God wants?”
Even pastors and pastors-in-training do this. We let our egos and our ambitions get in the way of God’s bigger picture. Our job is not to take up all the space to make the church some grandiose thing we think it should be. No. Our job is that we might grow God’s world, so that our egos might lessen so that God can shine a little brighter.
Our job is to not get in the way of God.
So pastors, it’s not about us. It’s never about us. It’s about God. It’s about everyone else.