A highlight of my year is getting to participate in the Desert Southwest Conference’s ordination services. This happens during our Annual Conferences. From my perspective, it is always an emotional, and amazing evening. Both from my own experience, and eight years on the Board of Ordained Ministry, I know how much effort goes into ordination. In the United Methodist Church, it is a long, and difficult, process. This is a service I try to never miss, and is open to everyone to attend.
I’m trying to decide what is my favorite part of the ordination service. I’m not big on wearing robes, but I love watching all of the clergy process in wearing their robes and stoles. Most years I wear the stole that I was wearing when I was ordained both as a Deacon and as an Elder (back in the days when we had the two-step ordination process). There is significance in having the clergy gather as one body as we receive those who are being ordained into the orders.
Then there is the moment of the laying of hands. I remember how heavy Bishop Benjamin Oliphant’s (Deacon) and Bishop Woodrow Hearn’s (Elder) hands were on my head when I was ordained. Does every Bishop have a heavy touch? It is incredible to watch the face of the person who is being ordained at that specific moment in time.
The reception of those who are newly ordained after the service is completed is also a time that I enjoy. I’m happy to stand in a long line to personally welcome each person who has just been ordained. I want them to know that they have been joyfully received, and that as clergy—and as United Methodists—we are connected.
I’ve known how important it is to be at the ordination services, but I think that I have under-estimated how important it is to be at the funeral services for our pastors. The Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank really got me thinking about this as she shared with the South District the lessons that she learned from being a Missional Strategist & Superintendent. The impact of attending the funeral services for our pastors made her list. Although I have attended a few funeral services for our clergy, usually distance and timing were good enough reasons in my mind to miss them. I’m thinking now that I was wrong.
This last Saturday I was honored to process in with other clergy wearing our robes and stoles to celebrate the life of Rev. Dan Turner. Dan is a pastor I have always admired, and who treated me with love and kindness. I didn’t attend Dan’s service out of obligation, instead I felt a strong desire to be there. I wanted to be there as someone who belongs to the same order that Dan belonged to. I wanted to be a witness that Dan’s life and ministry in the world made a difference. Not all of us are clergy, but all of us have connections with other people. Do we take the opportunity to stand as a witness for their lives?
For my clergy brothers and sisters, I’m wondering how much effort do we put into building relationships with each other between the ordination procession and the funeral procession? Do we ever find ourselves too busy to get to know each other? Today is a good day to reach out to someone that we don’t know well! For all of us, is there someone that we have been meaning to reach out to, and we just haven’t gotten around to it? True treasure in life is not found in the bank, but is created through relationships. This is a good time to make life a little richer!
Your brother on the journey, Mark