A Day I Will Never Forget
This morning I began the day on my deck with coffee and memory. 30 years ago today I was getting ready to make my way to Gower Street United where I would be ordained a minister of word, sacrament and pastoral care in the United Church of Canada.
It was a day I will never forget!
It had been a week of great testing for me. As a result of things beyond my control, the dream of being ordained seemed to be slipping from my grasp, at least for the time being. There were several things that gave me strength during that time.
The first was a stop at my Uncle’s house as we were making our way across the Island. I’m not sure that I can convey my Uncle Ben and what he represented but, for me, he was a person who had a direct line to the Creator. So with the devastating news that I might have to defer ordination I sat with him at the kitchen table. As he held my hands, and spoke in that soft, wise and holy voice a calm descended and in my being I knew that things would be just as they should be.
And afterwards he said to my Auntie Sylvia who remembers the morning well,
“Everything will be alright. She is going to be ordained.”
From there we travelled to St. John’s where I met with some of the leaders of the church and their care and commitment was unwavering. It was decided that despite what appeared to be roadblocks, we would simply step over them and keep going. And that is precisely what happened!
On May 27th, 1990 surrounded by my faith family in the Newfoundland and Labrador Conference my dream was consecrated and I was sent out in Jesus’ name.
There are many things about the service and the people who shared it with me that were amazing but two things filled my being with power.
The first was the laying on of hands. Kneeling at the altar at Gower Street United in front of my mother and my mentor ( Dr. Morley Hodder) and listening to and feeling their words of blessing resting upon me is something that I shall never forget. For me it was as if the depth of their compassion and faith was being infused into my being and with that as my foundation I could do whatever Spirit called me to do.
The second was the placing of the stole, a symbol of the mission and ministry that was now my privilege and responsibility. What made it particularly profound for me was that my father was the one who laid it on my shoulders. For me he embodied what it meant to be a disciple (even though he would not have used those words to describe himself). He was imperfect, yet a perfect reflection of Jesus – compassionate, loyal, committed, strong, always ready to lend a hand and make someone else’s burden lighter, loving, open, challenging and the best teacher and cheerleader anyone could ever have.
As I reflect back over the last 30 years I celebrate and give thanks for the ministry that I have been privileged to live and the fellow travellers who have walked the road with me. I marvel at the things I have experienced and the people who have invited my into their story. Today I acknowledge and thank each of you whose story has been woven into the fabric of my life. I thank you for your trust, for the lessons I have learned and for the love I have received. Each of you, whether your touch was for a brief time or a long time, have challenged and strengthened my faith and revealed to me Jesus, who is present every step of the way. I also give thanks today that my faith has continued to grow and my understanding of Divine has evolved and expanded.
Quickly Approaching Retirement
The other thing that settles in my being at this time is the reality that after 30 years I am quickly approaching retirement and will step away from pastoral ministry as I have come to know it.
(For those of you who might find this disturbing DON’T PANIC !!! I am not retiring just yet)
It’s funny how life works! Two years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of retiring and been adamant that I would keep going as long as I possibly could. Today I realize that “for everything there is a season. A time for every matter under heaven.” and I am okay with that. In some ways, I am excited by it. You see, for me ministry will never end. It will simply take on a different shape and be lived out in a different way.
So I guess, the long and short of it is, that today I celebrate and give thanks for
life and journey;
for possibilities and promises;
for companions on the way;
for insight and wonder;
for challenges and struggles
for beginnings and endings.
Thank you! To Each of you!
© 2020 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved.