The day that I was ordained was beautiful- my husband and I had driven through the smokey mountains that were aflame in the colors of the Holy Spirit oranges and reds- almost as if the earth was singing in celebration. My college roommate drove up from Atlanta to cantor the service with the same heart and love that she sang in our dorm room. My father who married me and my husband a few months previously now gave me a charge in my life of ministry. One of my best friends from divinity school-also in her first call- made a trip from Iowa to North Carolina sacrificing some of her few precious days off. The senior minister I work with boarded a plane in Illinois- as past supervisors from Connecticut made their way down to this verdant southland. Professors from college and my chaplain who all lived in the town- continuing to serve students like me- all gathered around. I was surrounded by their love, affirmation, and support and the movement of that weird and wonderful Holy Spirit was present. As the church in my college town called me by name to be a minister of the word and sacrament.
And whether you believe I was bodily changed- some ontological transformation – or not my heart most certainly melted as hands out stretched called upon God’s Spirit to empower and guide me – and over the years my heart has been formed back together.
In many ways that ordination day was a lesson for me- as flights were delayed- and people in the service found themselves trapped in traffic- as we confessed not once but twice a liturgical faux pas- as readings were misread- this service that I had worked toward and planned turned out differently than I could of ever imagined. And there was beauty in its imperfections- an imperfect service for an imperfect pastor- and my type A tendencies were reminded that after all only God is perfect.
But I was struck by how much love saturated every moment- as this small but mighty congregation showered me with that love.
The comedy of errors that was the service would not get in the way of the power of love- and the Spirit. And honestly if you didn’t know I am sure little seemed amiss. But I can imagine God chuckling- as we left the church and walked into nothing less that an episode of The Walking Dead. It was as if the seconding coming had happened and the dead had gruesomely raised from their tombs- the dry bones from Ezekiel walking around small town North Carolina. Apparently- my ordination aligned with an annual zombie pub crawl- and we joined in the crowd to continue to celebrate the beauty of this life and this faith that can feel like an absurdist play. This life where breath, joy, and hilarity are woven into the fabric of our existence- even if there are moments that break our hearts as well. Maybe it is a larger message for me- for God breathed life into these bones- that sometimes feel tired and crabby- sad and filled with doubt- dry and left in some desert- and God breathes life into imperfect moments of services gone asunder and reminds us of the beauty that lives within the brokenness- this has been true for me and maybe it is true for you too.
Rev. Kendra Joyner Miller