It was the first surprise of many: the hands laid on me at my ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament were heavy.
Seven years ago today, I knelt in the sanctuary of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Milwaukee–the church where I discerned my call to ordained ministry (as we say in the business), where I met and married Mike, where I worshiped and learned and prayed and sang with beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.
I was surrounded by those brothers and sisters; by family members and friends; and by many of the pastors who had walked with and nurtured me in the years leading up to this day. My father-in-law. My internship supervisor. A pastor from my teaching parish. My mentor. The pastor of St. Paul’s partner congregation; the pastors of St. Paul’s; a seminary classmate; a pastor from my text study group.
These wise and wonderful pastors gathered around me and placed their hands on my shoulders. I was amazed at the weight of it. They laid hands on me, and prayed, and placed a stole around my shoulders. And after more prayers and scripture and blessing and a few “We will”‘s from the assembly, the bishop said:
Let it be acclaimed that Margaret Patricia Lux Cumings is a called and ordained minister in the church of Christ. she has Christ’s authority to preach the word of God and administer the sacraments, serving God’s people as together we bear God’s creative and redeeming love to all the world.
Let it be acclaimed. I love those words. I love that there is no moment when the bishop says, “I ordain you into the ministry of word and sacrament.” There is simply prayer, and laying on of hands, and “Let it be acclaimed.” We trust that the Holy Spirit is moving in the ordination service, in the same hidden and mysterious way she is always at work in the world. Our job is to notice that work, to lift it up, to say: Let it be acclaimed!
Whenever I participate in the ordination of another pastor, I always make sure that I lay my hand firmly on his or her shoulder. I remember the weight on my own shoulders seven years ago. The holiness of that moment, caught for an instant in our hands.
Where do you see the Holy Spirit at work in the world?