The New Year brings new adventures

In a couple of weeks, I’m going to be ordained. It’s a big deal because it’s the culmination of four years of study and work. At the same time, it’s the start of something new.

I’ve been up for assignment to a congregation since August. It’s been something of a struggle because we (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) have the most open spots for pastors in rural areas. My husband, on the other hand, works in a specialized type of IT, which mainly is based in cities. You can see the problem.

We’ve been trying to find a workable solution by exploring opportunities for me in rural communities within driving distance of a metro area. We’ve found one after about four months of discerning and looking. It’ll take some effort for both of us, but we will make it work.

Now, it’s my responsibility to plan an ordination. For us in the ELCA, we are typically ordained during a worship service by the bishop of the area we’re going to serve. The service itself is flexible–we can choose the music, the texts, the people involved–but the rite of ordination isn’t strictly “ours.” It belongs to the church and is the same for every person who is ordained.

I like to keep things simple, so a while ago, I looked at the texts of that week. We use the Revised Common Lectionary, which is a multi-denominational calendar that determines what scriptural texts are read in worship from week to week. The text for the week is the Baptism of Our Lord, which matches the tone of an ordination better than I could have hoped. So, I won’t be changing the texts. Matthew 3:13-17 it is.

During the rite of ordination, we also receive our stoles, which function as the light “yoke” of a pastor. Only ordained clergy-people wear them, sort of like a uniform that shows others who you are and what purpose you serve. My husband and parents bought a set of five (to match all the liturgical colors of the year). Again, I wanted something simple, so they have a basic design. I think they are beautiful.

Now, my ordination is two weeks away. One of my “growing edges” is that I’m not a type-A planner, so the biggest challenge in planning the ordination has been how many details I need to consider. What time does the host church building close? What kind of food should we serve at the reception? Who is participating in the worship service? Fortunately for me, in 2016/2017, we have online tools like Google Docs that help me stay on top of what I might otherwise forget.

The next morning, I’ll be installed at the congregation where I’ll be serving. That will be my first official day as a pastor. After that, I’ll have all kinds of adventures. I don’t know quite what will happen, but I trust that God is with me. It will be something new.