I had all kinds of things going through my mind during the service. For starters, it brought back some memories of my own service. The only blog post I could find about it was this one from 2008 where I wrote about finding a journal entry (in my paper journal) from December of 1999. I recall feeling very awkward that day, and I was most proud of the fact that son Isaac and I played and sang together - he played bass and I played guitar. It may have been one of the first times we'd played together. I also remember having a lot of family there. One thing I will likely never forget, though, is that I included the following piece from Frederick Buechner's 'Alphabet of Grace' (p. 109) in the program:
The most crucial thing is always the thing that is not said. They are simply getting on with their lives, and it is not so simple. Maybe that is the most crucial thing.That always resonated with me for some reason, and still does. I'm not sure I can even explain it, but it's one of the most powerful pieces of writing I know.
"I hear you are entering the ministry," the woman said down the long table, meaning no real harm. "Was it your own idea or were you poorly advised?"
And the answer that she could not have heard even if I had given it was that it was not an idea at all, neither my own nor anyone else's. It was a lump in the throat. It was an itching in the feet. It was a stirring in the blood at the sound of rain. It was a sickening of the heart at the sight of misery. It was a clamoring of ghosts. It was a name which, when I wrote it out in a dream, I knew was a name worth dying for even if I was not brave enough to do the dying myself and could not even name the name for sure.
"Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you a high and driving peace..."
Anyway, this service went about as expected. There were the usual big wigs there, and plenty of friends and familiar faces. We had the pleasure of visiting with several pastors we hadn't seen in a long time too.
The person being ordained was one of the pastors I have breakfast with each week, and he was nice enough to include the other two of us in the service. I thought it interesting that Tom opened with a pretty splendid prayer that really covered well the whole concept of being ordained and the level of service and sacrifice that goes with it. However, the person who shared the message still seemed to cast it pretty heavily as an 'achievement.' Not that it was bad, but it's just interesting how different people view different things.
Overall it was a good time and I was happy for the newly ordained pastor.