Today is a day of contemplation and prayer for me as I offer thanks in remembrance for my journey of faith through ordination these last twenty years. Gathered at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, on the Feast of Pentecost, I prayed with Kevin Bothwell, Dorothy Hewlett, Stephen Hopkins, Carol Langlotz and Alan Steers as together we received the gift of the laying on of hands in diaconal ordination. The path since then has led me through ups and downs of ministry through different encounters with the Holy One both within and outside the community of faith.
For me, this journey has always been in the context of the feast of St. Barnabas the Encourager (June 11) and in the context of the sojourn of the early church through the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. I see myself as a partner with the Holy One, and a partner with humanity, indeed with all of creation, in bringing about justice and reconciliation, hope and love. The journey as a servant within the church is to encourage and uphold the vulnerable and bring about the reality of the Holy One’s realm in the here and now.
I am thankful for the longevity and the faithfulness of the communities of faith in which I have served, and I am blessed to have had so many leaders, mentors, friends and family journey with me in various ways.
Now, as I look to the future, I am hesitant and fearful of the journey ahead. The way in which I entered a life of leadership and service within the church has transformed over the years. I have taken on various roles and tasks within the life of the faith community, all with the understanding that I move in partnership with the Spirit, and with all humanity, for “A charge to keep I have, a God to Glorify.” (Charles Wesley, 1762). As time continues to roll forward, I find myself confronted these days with the image of the Exodus from Egypt, and the Exile in Babylon – two epic voyages by the Hebrew people in the Scriptures, where they risked journeying out of slavery, and risked reforming their lives without the physical presence of their religious practices. Questions abound and challenges overflow into my reflection and being: How does one continue to journey away from the unjust structures of society in this chaotic time of living? How can one advocate and listen, hope and be with community? How will my heart and being reflect the presence of the Holy One, when in many ways it seems we are being scattered into a wilderness of being?
At this time through twenty years in ministry and formation, I have patterns and practices that form who I am and how I serve; now in this time and in this place, many of those familiar patterns have had to change as the entire world has been gripped with pandemic isolation. The journey we undertake is one of exiting familiar practices and customs, and loosing ourselves of the familiar physical patterns of the life of faith.
In both the exodus and the exile, there were many that questioned and challenged the presence of the Holy One. In this time, it seems no different. As I lose myself of the old ways and embrace new patterns, I am reminded the Holy One is present, and is challenging me and others to remain faithful and open to the Spirit’s call in this uncertain time.