I feel like I missed a lot of Conference. Or maybe it’s just that it’s blurry and I only remember the big things.
I preached Wednesday night for the opening memorial service, a tremendous honor that had me sweating glowing like crazy and more nervous than I remember being. Of course the actual sermon was not exactly like the rehearsal recording I uploaded, but it may have been close. I never felt like I totally got into my groove, but I also heard from literally hundreds of people that they loved it and were touched by it and needed to hear it, so maybe, jut maybe, God spoke a Word despite me. God tends to do that.
I spent much of Thursday coordinating, between legislative sessions, with a friend coming in late. Friday was similar but coordinating with family coming in for Saturday.
And then there was Saturday. Closing motions– our *last* full confernece closing motions. Friends crying right and left, me stealing other people’s tissues (sorry, Megan), and all before we even got near the Ordination service.
The service was surreal. My family sat right behind me, and I was between my two fellow ordinands. In some ways it flew; it seemed tailor made for me, the sermon, the people involved, the music– the anthem was “In the Midst of New Dimensions,” a favorite song of mine from which this blog takes its title. And before I knew it, my sponsors were on either side of me, my DS had offered me his arm, and I was walking to the stage, kneeling before the bishop, hearing the rustle in the room as people got to their feet.
And then three bishops, two board members, the conference lay leader, my District Supeintendent, my mom in law and my mentor all placed their hands on me.
There’s no way to describe it, but I’ll try.
A day before, I received a back massage from a woman who has studied reike. Her hands were incredibly warm and strong. These hands were warmer. They pressed down almost as hard as she did. I expected it to be like other ‘laying of hands’ I had experienced, where people lightly place their hand on you, barely applying pressure. Here was pressure, weight. This was serious prayer, like when you grip a friend’s hand for dear life. I think I let out an audible gasp.
And then (although I tried to stand up because I was in such a haze) my hands were placed on a bible, but I was looking right at the Bishop’s face, and her eyes were bright with moisture. As I stood, I had to stoop to accept the stole from her, and it raised goosebumps on my neck. I stayed on the platform for the rest of the service, and then we consecrated communion together, breaking bread and sharing liturgy (and book-holding confusion) with the three bishops like we were all colleagues, because, guess what, we are. I broke bread and placed it in people’s hands, calling them by name, grinning like a Cheshire Cat, I’m sure.
During the call to ministry, several people I knew came forward, and I didn’t have enough arms to hug them all. We recessed, and then the line of clergy, men and women I respect and admire and adore, shook my hand and greeted me, and it was in their eyes: despite the differences in age and experience, they greeted me as an equal.
I presided in worship on Sunday, twice, with a stole around my shoulders, conscious of the weight, but feeling right and at home.