I remember my own ordination clearly. It was May 30, 1999, a hot afternoon in Denver, and Jefferson Unitarian Church was packed. I remember how wonderful it felt to see so many friends and colleagues there to bless my future ministry and welcome me into the ranks of ordained ministers. I remember how hot and heavy the hands of the gathered congregation felt on my shoulders as they performed the "laying on of hands", a symbolic act of sending me forth. And I remember the exultation I experienced at the benediction which I gave, my first act as an ordained minister.
All these memories raced through my mind as I participated in the ordination yesterday of my former parishioner, now friend and colleague, Sarah. Sarah began her journey to ministry many years ago and confided her sense of call to me one day in my little office at my former parish where she was a member. Since then I have watched her grow, course by course, idea by idea, sermon by sermon, experience by experience.
When I moved to Whidbey, I left Portland far behind and saw her only occasionally, when she would fill me in on her latest class or realization. This past spring she finished her internship after passing the Ministerial Fellowship Committee's interview with flying colors. She called me over the summer to find out if I would offer the "right hand of fellowship" at her ordination, since I had been her minister at the time she decided to study for the ministry.
I gladly accepted and prepared my few words. And yesterday afternoon, I offered her not only the "right hand of fellowship" but also, for our left-handed colleagues, the "left hand of fellowship". And since she would need to call on us for help in a variety of ways over the years of her ministry, I also offered her the "strong right arm of fellowship" and the "strong left arm" as well. Then I gave her the two-armed hug of fellowship, to emphasize the love I feel for her. It felt really good to be part of her big day.
Tonight I'm bushed after traveling over 600 miles down to Corvallis and back. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world!