Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wearing the collar and saving the bow

This past weekend I was Ordained.

My kids asked me what this means, and if they have to call me "Father Mom."

It means that I am now - officially - a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America.

It means I can be called Reverend. (not Father Mom)

It means I can wear the collar and the stole.

It means I can put a "Clergy" placard on my dashboard and park a little closer to the hospital entrance, if I need to.

It means I can be called upon to pray in public, or at the dinner table. Not that I haven't been before, but now I'm expected to say "Of course!" and launch into an impressive and theologically-sound missive thanking God for pizza.

More importantly to me, Ordination means that the calling I heard from God so clearly when I was 13, has been validated by the church. It means that I publicly promised to live for Christ; to love God and to love people. It means that everything I have undertaken and accomplished over the past 10 years or so (Seminary, Clinical Pastoral Education, internships, post-graduate courses, etc.) was recognized by the church. It means that everything has changed. It also means that nothing has changed.

When I was a kid, every time we unwrapped a gift, my mother would say "Save the bow!" She was big on reusing things. But sometimes she would put aside the bow in order to remember the occasion.

My ordination is the Bow on the Gift that God has given me - the Gift of a call to ministry. 

I'm so thankful for that gift. And I will save the bow.


  1. thanks for the gift of tears....i could see Nancy saying that!! So on that note, i too shall save the bow!! I love ya, Sus....and am so proud and happy for you!!!<3

  2. Susan,
    I'm happy for your ordination, but at the same time, your statements of what ordination means to you exactly echo my thoughts, and that brings me pain.

    I don't know exactly why, but I was never able to find a job in the RCA after graduation, and the PCUSA church were I serve right now refuses to entertain the idea of being ordained in RCA to specialized ministry. I can understand the PCUSA's confusion, but the absence of ordination still hurts deeply.

    It is as if the church is saying, "We refuse to acknowledge the call that you and others have seen given by the Holy Spirit. (Soup Nazi voice: No ordination for you!")Believe me, a pastor was about the last thing I ever wanted to be--until God called me. My soul has been in such pain over the past two years that I wonder if I should just leave the church and ministry altogether.

    Regardless, this was a lovely post, and I'm very happy for you!
    ~Jill K. Vande Zande

    1. Congratulations Susan, and my heart aches for you Jill. You both are wonderful gifts to the Body of Christ...never forget, or let anyone tell you otherwise.

    2. Jill, I'm so sorry for your pain. And I understand it completely - I got my MDIV back in December 2006. Long time to wait around trying to find where God wanted me to serve. Then I went through a 2-year internship that had me questioning everything about ministry, my place in it, and my sanity! [Sadly, there are still people out there who refuse to acknowledge women's call to ministry, and who try to sabotage anyone who might "threaten" their own ministry.] That said, I learned A LOT over the years, including how to wait for God to orchestrate things and get everything in place so I could finally do what He called me to. I pray that is what He is doing for you as well. Please don't quit - God is at work, and you will be a fabulous pastor when He brings you to the place He has for you. ~Susan

  3. Susan,
    I am so happy for you!!! And I'm so grateful to God for placing me in the RCA at a time that I could celebrate this 'confirmation/affirmation' of your call with you. I had such a wonderful time this past weekend. THANKS!!!

    And at the same time my heart aches for sisters like Jill who have not been able to live out their God-given call in the RCA as they would like. And while I am non-clergy, I have committed myself to being an advocate for change, and whenever possible to be a shoulder to cry on and a sounding board for you.

    Blessings on your ministries in whatever ways God is using you!!!