Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Confirming, Affirming, Ordaining

On Sunday night, we ordained one of First Baptist's own to ministry. Ordination is to Baptists what Graduation is to College. You've got the degree, but the ceremony says what has happened already. We go through this rite of passage because of what is whispered in the ear and shared to the heart. As Bill Leonard challenged us, the early Baptists knew best. The gathering of the believers conveyed and confirmed the presence of the spirit. We touched base with Thomas and others who trusted the words of 1st century women about as much as society does today. In this case, however, we blessed a woman's work in whom we can trust.

Emily is a third generation minister. If ministry can be a family business, the Hull's would be in a skyscraper. But it's not, and it can't be. This is as individual, personal, and private as the salvation moment itself. In fact, family connections probably fight against ministry more than we realize. The preacher's kid resists a call more than the average person to make sure that it's not just what "Momma wants," or what is most familiar to the person.

As the line snaked around the historic sanctuary, I enjoyed several warm moments. On the platform, I sat next to Bill Leonard who willingly put up with my pontifications as a know-it-all undergrad. He pushed me to meet Glenn Hinson. My senior thesis was supposed to be the beginning of a good treatment of his work. Hopefully someone else has written it by now.

I watched the line filled with senior adults, single adults, and seminary adults. These cohorts and clusters called to mind the goodness of a church, the blessing of a community, and the trust and faith that God is still whispering in the night to women and men. And sometimes we get to bless those who got up, moved past their Eli, and said yes to the open door.

I saw another line form in my head. The group of men that snaked around First Baptist, Pensacola, FL, to breathe on me some words I've long forgotten but from which I still draw in the recesses of the soul. It was much different then, but that was still good and meaningful and necessary. Graduations are nice, but ordinations are grace. God's grace to us.

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