Random Thoughts: Celebration, Sadness and Thanksgiving!

The memories came flooding back as we processed into Stuart Auditorium for Lauren’s ordination service. We were marching to that great old hymn, THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION, and I admit that there was a lump in my throat in that moment.

I remembered walking into Duke Chapel to that same hymn in May 1985, the organist seemingly pulling out all the stops, as we received our M.Div. degrees and then were “sent out” to serve the church. Two years later, when I was ordained an elder, the same hymn marched us into the service. There are a lot of things I have forgotten about that service, but what I do remember is this: to kneel and have the hands of

the Bishop (Bevel Jones) and all the other elders and bishops placed upon you is an absolutely awesome moment. Indeed, it is hard for me to put into words what I felt.

I suspect Lauren Sims-Salata felt as much when it came her turn to be ordained an elder in the United Methodist Church. What an honor it was for me to stand with her and to be one of those “laying on” hands! And how proud we all are of her as she has come to this sacred moment!

And, yes, it is a sacred moment. For you see, it is the affirmation of a sacred calling laid upon the lives of those being ordained to go forth and serve Christ as a minister in his church. Yes, we are all called to min- istry and serving through our church; let us not forget that. But then, with ordination there also comes the awesome responsibility—and privilege—of serving God’s people; of preaching and ordering our worship and sacraments; of being there with folks in good times and bad; of helping build the kingdom now and for the future. Thinking about these things, there is something else I remember about my ordination, and that is how heavy were the hands of the bishop and the others that were placed upon me as I knelt that even- ing, and rightly so.

May we remember always the One who is the center of our faith and the foundation of our church—Jesus

Christ our Lord.

We were all touched and horrified by the news of what happened in Orlando, and we should be. Forty-nine lives were snuffed out. I don’t know that it matters all that much as to whether it was an act of a terrorist or a deranged, hateful person. What matters to me is that people of faith stand against such violence in our land. And yes, it has happened way too often.

Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Conference (and my classmate at Duke Divinity School) spoke for the Flori-

da Conference prior to their meeting in Orlando last week when he and the cabinet said: “…we call upon all

United Methodists to claim our witness as Wesleyan Christians to stand against such hateful violence. To-

ward that end we affirm these words in the Preamble of our Social Principles: Grateful for God’s forgiving

love, in which we live and by which we are judged, and affirming our belief in the inestimable worth of each

individual, we renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the Gospel, not alone to the ends of the

earth, but also to the depth of our common life and work (Book of Discipline, p. 104).”

It is so good to be back in worship with you. Finally, I will get back to preaching on the first Sunday in July.

My doctor reminds me I am still mending for a while longer, but I am also making good progress. Thanks be to God. I am also extremely grateful (even a bit overwhelmed) by the gracious acts of kindness and encourage- ment from my church family. It has meant a lot to me, Kay and Ashleigh, especially to know that we are loved and being prayed for!


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