Friday, November 17, 2006


15 years ago today I was ordained into the Christian ministry in the United Church of Christ. For a minister an ordination is right up there with one's wedding and the birth of one's children. It's a powerful experience. Words do not do it justice. But I'll try.

I wore my father's robe. I still wear it to this day whenever I preach during the cooler months as it is made out of a heavy poplin. I was supposed to be the last to enter in the procession but the moderator of our church (seen behind me in the last picture below) insisted I lead everyone in. My new colleague, Rev. Bill Youngkin from Dayton, OH, and two other gentlemen from the church I was serving, came to celebrate with me. My three closest girlfriends--one from high school, one from college, and one from seminary--all participated in the service. I sang a duet with a woman friend from the church I grew up in, this church in which I was being ordained; all the music in the service was from "Godspell". I was surrounded by people who had watched me grow up in the church and a huge crew from Andover Newton Theological School (see photo above), the seminary from which I graduated.

I hardly ate at all that whole day. I don't remember having breakfast before church that Sunday morning, and all I had for lunch was a bite of a pb & j, maybe a swig of milk. The ordination was at 5:00 p.m. with a reception afterward. I was so busy greeting family and friends that I didn't have a chance to nibble at the plate of food someone thoughtfully brought me. Then a select group of us adjourned to the Elks hall in Pembroke, MA for a dance with a dj, dessert, coffee and tea. Again, not a morsel passed my lips as we toasted, opened presents, and boogied the night away. The party broke up at around 10 p.m. but I was not ready to retire for the night. Two friends were headed for the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston and I asked if I could come with them. As we made our way toward the highway I asked if we could go through the drive-thru at Burger King; I was famished and could not wait until we made it to Boston. I did not go to bed until 2 a.m.!

I don't know if it was the Holy Spirit or pure adrenaline I was running on; perhaps a mixture of both. I do know that it was a great way to start the next chapter in my life. I wish everyone could have a day like that for the beginning of one's own life as an adult or when making a meaningful change: surrounded by friends and family, making promises and a commitment toward the future in front of God and everyone, and then a huge party afterward. It gives one the sense of being truly loved and of owing something back for all that has been received, a sense of being responsible in a joyful, giving way.

This was the opening prayer for the ordination service, written by Methodist minister/author Ted Loder. I return to it from time to time to remind me of who and where I came from and that God is still not finished with me.

Come, Lord Jesus,
expand me,
by your power, life-generating as the sea
to accept
and use my power
to do something I believe in
and be something more of who I mean to be
and can be;
to inspire me to dream and move,
sweat and sing,
fail and laugh,
cuss and create;
to link my passion with courage,
my hope with discipline,
my love with persistence;
to enable me to learn from difficulties,
grow in adversities,
gain wisdom from defeats,
perspective from disappointments,
gracefulness from crises,
and find joy
in simply living it all fully.
Release me through your power
to be a powerful person, Lord. Amen.


Andy said...

You had a party at the elks hall, ate at the drive-thru at Burger King (on the Pembroke/Marshfield line, I assume?) went to the Hard Rock Cafe and did not go to bed until 2 a.m.? You party animal, you!

And yet, I can't remember the last time that I was up until 2AM in ANY club. Pass me my geritol, please...

A great story, Cindy. I am very proud of you.

Cynthia said...

Actually, it was the one near the Hanover Mall near Rt. 3. Yeah, I used to be quite a party animal back in the day...Could give it a go now but would need at least a day to recuperate!

Thanks, buckaroo. :-)