Twenty-eight Years

Posted by Ruth Beresford on

Today, my post is personal. On May 1, the feast of Saints Philip and James, I celebrated the 28th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Some days it hardly seems possible I have served the Church that long. On other days it feels like I've been a priest my whole life. Well now, it's official - I've served as a priest for half the span of my life.

People sometimes ask about my call. "When did you know?" My brother David told me I was five or six when he remembers me saying I was going to be a priest when I grew up (and that was about a decade before General Convention changed the canons to allow women's ordination). I was 20 at my first interview with the bishop and my vocation was clear to my parish family, who supported me through seminary. To stand before that same bishop and a great congregation of clergy and people - well, you can guess it was a glorious, holy moment in my life. My life changed forever that day.

When I read again the vows I took 28 years ago (BCP 526, 531-2), I see how much my life is shaped by them. Two speak most to me of my ministry in three congregations. I vow to be "a faithful pastor to all whom [I am] called to serve, laboring together with them and with [other] faithful ministers to build up the family of God," and to "endeavor so to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received." Serving as a pastor, preacher, and priest was in my heart as the child who baptized the cats and played at serving communion with Necco wafers. I confess I have failed those vows from time to time; and I have upheld them time and again because God continues to call and bless me in this life. As I am open to God's Spirit, I am who I am meant to be. These vows and the baptismal vows that came first are how I make sense of my purpose in this world.

I think about this as I read the gospel for this coming Sunday and Jesus' words to his disciples gathered around the table on the night before he died. "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." May God bless you as you live into this witness of love in our life in Christ.

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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