Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ordination Recap and Some Thanks

So I was indeed ordained an elder in the Church of the Nazarene last week (click here if you care about pictures). Some have asked me “how I feel.” Well, honestly, I’m thankful. Another asked me if my sermon was better the day after. I don’t know, although, I did feel a bit more confident…? Another asked what ordination meant to me. Well, here’s what the Church of the Nazarene says (in part):

401.6. Theology of Ordination. While affirming the scriptural tenet of the universal priesthood and ministry of all believers, ordination reflects the biblical belief that God calls out and gifts certain men and women for ministerial leadership in His Church. Ordination is the authenticating, authorizing act of the Church, which recognizes and confirms God’s call to ministerial leadership as stewards and proclaimers of both the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ. Consequently, ordination bears witness to the Church universal and the world at large that this candidate evidences an exemplary life of holiness, possesses gifts and graces for public ministry, and has a thirst for knowledge, especially for the Word of God, and has the capacity to clearly communicate sound doctrine.

I actually appreciate that. I think it’s a worthy statement.

More personally, I saw the day as a statement of faith in me by the church community. I was not ordained by Paul Cunningham. He was the presiding General Superintendent over the New England District Church of the Nazarene, who chose to ordain me. And it is indeed quite a statement of faith, one that I must and will remember.

So in one sense, it was an end.

But in a much greater sense, it was a beginning. I am stating here publicly that I commit to continue seeking the face of God. This means that I acknowledge I have more to learn and will until the final consummation (I think the title of this blog is testimony to that). I give anyone and everyone permission to call me out on the day I stop learning. I think one of the greatest weaknesses that has put the CotN and evangelicalism in danger of not having a voice in the world is the lack of desire to continue being formed and shaped as the culture around us changes. The thought that we have ministers serving on the foundation of an M.Div. of several decades in age and a few CEUs here and there should give us no wonder that we aren’t connecting with today’s generations. Jesus Christ may be the same yesterday, today, and forever…but the culture he loves is not.

So…I hope to continue learning, to continue being shaped and formed, to continue being moved by a Spirit that is always in constant motion (it’s no wonder that the images for the Spirit are fire & wind, no?).

So while ordination was a time to look to the past and remember all we’ve come through to get where we are, it’s also a challenge to be alive in the future.

By the way, I confessed to someone recently that I have been on the BU School of Theology website quite a bit recently…but due to reasons of finance and family, another degree is not likely any time soon.

There are times in life when you just feel like you need to thank somebody. The event of ordination made me think of all the people who have shaped and formed my life to this end (beginning). I want to take some time to thank some people who have led me thus far in ministry in the Kingdom.

Of course, the danger in doing this is forgetting someone. I’m going to go ahead and risk the danger, with apologies to those I may remember later. I want those I have remembered to know that I am thankful for what they’ve done in my life as I have headed into ministry in the Kingdom of God.

Kenny Stanford – For picking a non-athletic clumsy toe-headed seventh grader to the FOL volleyball team. I had no reason to be on that team, but you have no idea what it meant to the confidence of a shy, young boy. And then you just kind of adopted me into ministry. And now, for your friendship, advice, and sounding board ears.

Jeff Lane – For being a model to a young teen and now, for your friendship. It’s nice to know that you’re “out there” too (in more ways than one).

Don & Lori Jeffrey – For driving me to countless youth events and being “youth pastors” where there were none. For opening your home to me.

David Landry – For giving tough advice and challenge to a young teen. Your example spoke to me.

Gerry & Sharon Deroschers – For your advice and challenge to serve Christ amongst my peers.

Dave Brown – For demonstrating to a young teen what it means to love and have passion about something.

Dan Eddings – For your demonstration of leadership.

Bev Keuther – For your encouragement to a young teen to keep on in serving the Lord.

John White – For leading a church community that always encouraged the development of young people: for giving us a chance to minister and lead. And for letting me be a part of a youth group when I had none.

David Bickom – For spending so much time with a young guy and giving me a sense of humor.

Mark Metcalfe – For encouraging a young musician.

Ed Frost – For your friendship. I’ve always felt like I am your equal.

Nick Mucci, Jarrod Spalding, Jamie Wilson – For your friendship in college and since. It’s so great to know that I’m not alone in what I’m doing.

Ryan Scott – For your quiet friendship, countless conversations over IM. I am challenged by you, and all for the better.

Mike Schutz – For challenging me to think and ask tough questions of God and humanity.

Fred Fullerton – For your mentorship in some tough times in college, for your friendship now as a peer.

John M. Nielson – For encouraging Meghan and I as we sought the will of God. And for your example in family and ministry.

Tom Oord – For helping me understand that it’s okay to challenge my own thinking, to doubt, and for showing me my own foundation for believing in God by your own testimony.

LeRoy Hammerstrom & Ken Constantine – For passing me! But even more so, for encouraging a young college student to follow the voice of God, despite the confusing road I was on.

Anita Henck - For your encouragement in confusing times.

Bill Clay – For challenging me to be sanctified daily. Starting now.

Hans Deventer (and others on Naznet) – For giving me a place to present ideas, challenging me to be able to know what I’m talking about and allowing me to grow in grace and knowledge, all the while in love.

Clark Armstrong – For giving me a chance, for your encouragement, your loan forgiveness, your willingness to share the helm, your release, your passion, your quickness to demonstrate emotion, and your example of “plodding along.”

Golda Masters – For demonstrating to me a “fight to the end” attitude. For your love and “gramma-like” care to a poor young couple and their son. For your comradeship.

Tim Pusey – For always seeking out a lowly seminary student in a Kansas City crowd of bigwigs.

Brian Postlewait – For your constant challenge to think about what it means to be a part of the Kingdom.

NTS Profs – I could list each one of you individually and say how you impacted me. Thanks for leading me in ministry for the Kingdom.

Ron Benefiel - Though you don't even know it, for showing me that I can stay...and how.

Russ Metcalfe – For your example to the next generation, and your continued willingness to seek the face of God despite “time served.” And for daily prayer.

Jossie Owens – For not throwing away a letter and giving a chance to a young and crazy guy.

Larry Ogden – For demonstrating to me that generations other than my own can think too. And your grace.

Geoff DeFranca – For being a bigwig that’s not afraid to challenge the ways of our small corner of the Kingdom of God.

Scott Newell – Your sense of humor is a reminder to me to “chill out.” Thanks for praying with me every week. And thanks for starting a church community in Hingham.

Larry & Martha Wilson – For being a counselor who took interest in a young guy in his cabin. And for continuing the work in Hingham.

Mike Matthews – For your open and welcoming arms to me and my family when you probably had good human reason not to. And for continuing the work in Hingham.

Ron & Patty Parker – For your example and quiet advice. (Oh yeah, and for your daughter, my partner in ministry).

Floyd Nease - Though it may surprise many (and perhaps none more than yourself) to find your name on this list, conversations we've had have shaped my understanding of God, one way or the other. And thanks for being a sounding board each week, as in my head, I've often deleted portions of a sermon after thinking, "Uncle Floyd would think that's ridiculous." Quite often, you've been right.

Jeff – For talking theology. I look forward to more of it.

Mike Lyle – There are several on this list to whom I could give a lifetime of thanks (both in breadth and because they deserve it). You’re one of them, and I hope I can do it. Thanks for your honesty and transparency.

Grandma & Grandpa Scott - For your demonstration of what it means to be dedicated to service in the Church.

Grandpa Nease – I don’t even know where to begin. I guess if I were to pick one thing in relationship to service in the Kingdom of God, thanks for your example of humility and grace. That’s what I hear about the most as I talk to people who knew you well.

Mom – I continue to be pleasantly surprised sometimes, as I think about theology, to remember back to some conversations we had when I was growing up.

Dad – Good grief, where would I start? I guess it all started with DNA, but thanks most of all for your example of humility, grace, and plodding along despite a lack of acknowledgement. I imagine I’ll be needing that too.

Meghan - Thanks for not giving up on me, especially when we've talked late into the night about some whacko theological thing or another. I love how we've grown together.

(I really didn't mean for this to sound like I won the Oscars or something...it's just that there have been times when people have thanked me for something I've not even remembered doing, and it was an encouragement. I guess I want to do the same.)