Monday, June 4, 2012

Blame it on the Spirit

I have a confession to make....I think I'm an Ordination Junkie.

Eternal God, through your Son, Jesus Christ, pour out your Holy Spirit upon Matthew and fill him with the gifts of grace for the ministry of word and sacrament. Bless his proclamation of your word and administration of your sacraments, so that your church may be gathered for praise and strengthened for service. Make him a faithful pastor, patient teacher, and wise counselor. Grant that in all things he may serve without reproach, that your people may be renewed and your name be glorified in the church; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
~ELW Occasional Services

These words were spoken at my friend Matt's Ordination yesterday at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, IL. I called the same church my home over the past nine months because it was my Ministry-In-Context parish. Matt was called to be a Mission Developer for a new church that they are planting in the city of Chicago. It's been a really great time watching and participating in getting the new church ready to open, and now that Matt is ordained, they are one step closer to having weekly worship (which will hopefully happen this fall).

The most powerful part of the service for me was the laying on of hands by Bishop Miller and the other clergy in attendance. It's simultaneously exciting, awe-inspiring, and downright terrifying to think about the Holy Spirit. I know we spend a lot of time praying for the Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives, and know that the Spirit is an ever present part of our lives and our entire world, but I know I don't always think about what that actually means, and ordinations give me a chance to pause and consider the implications of this request.

Praying for the Spirit to pour out these things upon Matt (and all of us) is exciting in that we get to recognize the power of God at work in us, and through our lives of service to each other. It's also incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring, knowing that God claims and calls people at their baptisms to live out their vocations of faith, and that the Spirit is actively at work helping us fulfill those calls. And on top of all these things, praying for the Spirit's presence in our lives is downright terrifying. It's terrifying because once we recognize the power of the Spirit within our lives it's impossible to ever go back to the old way of living. It's impossible to wake up and think "nope, I don't need the Spirit today". The power of the Spirit in our lives calls us to our baptismal vocations of living out God's promises in the world with joy and excitement, living daily in the knowledge that the Spirit does show up in everything. Everything from ordinations, to conversations over dinner, to getting sweaty and dirty planting flowers and vegetables in the garden.

The exciting, awe-inspiring, terrifying presence of the Spirit at work in our lives, and in Matt's life, shown clearly yesterday in the laying on of hands and prayer, is something that I love to witness, and be a part of. So maybe I'm an ordination junkie...but I blame it all on the Holy Spirit.

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