In Whatever Condition You Were Called

I had a strange dream last night - Matt and I had decided to get married for a second time, and so we were having a smaller, family-oriented outdoor wedding. When we were nearing the time for communion (apparently we were having communion at our second wedding?), I looked around, and the bishop was nowhere to be found, so I hopped in a car with Matt's brother so that we could go track him down.

I'm pretty darn sure that this dream is 100% the by-product of beginning to plan my ordination service. It turns out that there are many similar details in planning both ordinations and weddings (invitations, picking the readings and the music, choosing participants, etc.). It seems that in my sleep, my brain mistook the ordination service planning for wedding planning, but was smart enough to remember that the bishop is a part of ordination, thus including him in my dream.

It's harder to plan an ordination that I had expected. There are plenty of rules and rubrics, and it's hard to sort through what is required, what is standard, and what is flexible. I've been trying to hunt down invitations, bulletins, and guidelines from other ordinations; seeing what I can find on google using combinations of the following words: Lutheran, ELCA, ordination, service, liturgy, planning, invitation.

It is strange to me that I haven't found much in the way of planning helps, and even stranger to me that I haven't stumbled upon many invitations or liturgies from other people's ordinations.

But even more disheartening to me is that, no matter what combination of search terms I use, the majority of the results that google spits out have to do with one of two issues: women's ordination (mostly discussions denouncing it), and GLBT ordination (some news articles, but mostly discussions denouncing it). I suppose that it makes sense; those who are most likely to be outspoken about the ELCA and ordination are those who have strong feelings about those issues, and it's much easier to voice opposing opinions than it is to voice agreement.

On a personal level, it's difficult for me to come across all of the anti-women's-ordination rhetoric while I'm searching and searching for materials to help me plan my own ordination. Regardless of the Biblical and theological arguments they make against it, regardless of the Biblical and theological arguments that I could make in support of it, what really gets to me is the callous tone with which these opponents denounce and condem something that is so deeply personal, so deeply vulnerable, so deeply serious to me. I do not take my sense of call lightly, nor do I take lightly all of the work, all of the process, all of the steps along the journey that have brought me to this place. It irks me that there are people out there who proof-text against my ability to be ordained, without stopping to consider the depths of what it means to feel called to the ministry, regardless of gender or even sexuality. It is so simple for these people to detach and lightly discount what it means to have a sense of call; it is so simple for them to tell people like me that I'm mistaken, that I can't possibly have been called, as if my sense of call were nothing more than a passing whim or act of rebellion.

There are many interesting Biblical and theological conversations to be had about the viability of women's ordination. There are people whom I love and respect who will probably come down on a different side of the issue than I do. But these are people who know me, who respect me, who do not merely dismiss my sense of call or try to scare me into giving up the ministry with threats of God's condemnation and hell and the like. At the end of the day, there are far more fruitful conversations to be had about the many and various ways God works through people and creation, rather than debates about the sorts of people and means through which God's grace is "allowed" to be shared.

However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:17, 24)

1 comment:

  1. Being a man I obviously don't have to deal with this kind of thing in the same way you do. Being a father of two girls it still pisses me off. Fortunately I'm of a temperament and personality that I let these kinds of things roll off my back because I just think they're stupid. I'm sorry this disturbs you so.

    As to planning your ordination service, I didn't have to do anything for mine but choose two sponsors and show up. We have ordination services at our Synod Assemblies for those who have a call at that time. I just received an invitation from the bishop to an ordination service next Friday (since there's not Synod Assembly this year) where 3 ordinands will be ordained. I like the fact that the bishop wants to make it a synodical occasion and celebration rather than just congregational.

    But as to your task, the 1982 Occasional Services book (the companion to LBW) has the rite for ordination with rubrics in it. I don't know if the new ELWorship materials have an ordination rite among them.

    I would be in touch with your bishop and the synod office for some help with this. They might have files ready so share and edit that they could just email you. I certainly think your bishop should be involved in this planning.

    Congratulations, by the way, if I didn't already congratulate you.