Ministry: A Lifelong Journey

Saturday, June 10th was a joyous occasion for the Diocese of Colorado, for it was

in the morning at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, near downtown Denver, when 9 people

were ordained to holy orders by Bishop Robert O’Neill. Three were ordained as priests,

two as transitional deacons, and four as vocational deacons.

Like many of my deacon and priest colleagues, I took my alb and red stole to wear in the

opening processional for the service. As we were lining up to process into the cathedral, I

looked at the faces of each of those soon to be ordained. They had come to this day and this

place by many different ways – physically, mentally, spiritually. It made me think about my

own journey and how I came to my ordination day about 5-1/2 years ago. They had the

same “deer-in- the-headlights” look on their faces that I had!

Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran Pastor and founder of the House for All Sinners and

Saints in Denver, gave the sermon and what a sermon it was! I wish I had recorded it

(perhaps it might get posted on the Diocesan website) because she spoke so honestly about

ministry. She asked the soon-to- be ordained folks the question: Do you think because you

have studied many deep subjects such as theology, liturgy and hermeneutics in seminary

and survived taking a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, that you are now well prepared to

enter into ministry? To which she answered, “Of course, you’re not!” We all laughed. I

thought to myself, “How true, how true!”

Pastor Nadia went on to explain that no matter the extent of our training or how sharp our

skill set may be we are never fully ready to take on God’s work. If we were, then we would

have no need of God. Ministry would become less about God and more about us. When we

enable God to use our weaknesses, God’s grace enters in and the most amazing things can

happen. She quoted the Apostle Paul, “So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,

so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses,

insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am

weak, then I am strong.” (II Cor. 12:9b-10)

Pastor Nadia’s message must have been consoling for those about to be ordained - that

ministry is a lifelong journey. Indeed, her words were an amazing reminder for all of us –

clergy and lay people alike – that we are not perfect and that we all make mistakes. As

Christ’s ministers, we are all called to love one another and to forgive one another.

Deacon Linda Brown