Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Musing: Crossing the Jordan

I recently had a phone call from a dear friend who was saddened by the untimely death of one of her seminary professors, Rosemary Keller. As we talked, she said Dr. Keller had recently published a book, In Our Own Voices: Four Centuries of American Women’s Religious Writing. When our conversation ended, I promised I would check out a copy of the book and read it.

Following through on that promise was a delight. It contained religious writings of Roman Catholic, Black, Jewish, Protestant, Pentecostal, Native American women, etc. And then there was a chapter regarding ordination of women and the difficulties they faced through the years trying to become ordained. I finished that particular chapter rather late one evening and as I closed the book I started to cry. Goodness! What was that about? I realized I had felt the call to ministry when I was 15 years old, but at that time I was a member of a denomination that did not allow woman in ministry and was told it was impossible. I had been dismayed, discouraged, and disillusioned; however, I continued to walk by faith and serve where allowed.

A couple weeks ago, I turned 55. So it has been 40 years since I first felt the call to ministry…and now the call was seemingly being renewed. How could it be? My husband and I had moved to Oregon and built our retirement home in Seal Rock…he recently retired…how was this going to work? It would absolutely turn our lives upside down. I told God that if this was the path I was to take, I was going to need some strong affirmation.

The next morning I entered my quiet time in the usual way, and was surprised by some encouraging / confirming verses:

In Joshua 1.2-9, I read…Arise and go over this Jordan…No man shall be able to stand before you…I will be with you, I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous…only be strong and very courageous…do not be frightened and do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

And in 1 Corinthians 9. 16-17, it stated…for necessity is laid upon me. Woe to you if you preach not the gospel…you have been entrusted with a stewardship…

Later that morning I went to visit a friend who had recently undergone surgery and was in a care facility. When I arrived, Arnie was sitting outside waiting for me. We chatted about the weather and his stay at the care facility as we headed to his room for our visit. As soon as we were inside, he turned around, pointed directly at me and emphatically stated, “You need to preach!”

Following my visit with Arnie, I had a luncheon appointment with a female pastor friend. We greeted one another and she asked me how my visit with Arnie went. As we walked into the restaurant, she put her arm around me and said, “You have such a pastor’s heart. You really should be in ministry.”

The following day was our Wednesday Worship Team meeting at church. At the end of the meeting our pastor announced he was taking vacation in October and needed someone to fill the pulpit. All the Worship Team members said it should be me. I was overwhelmed!

Encouraged by these four confirmations I made arrangements to talk with pastor. We discussed the possibility of becoming a Commissioned Lay Pastor. On September 16th, I was approved by the Session to pursue the training. Sunday, October 12th, I will preach my first sermon at First Presbyterian Church. The journey continues...

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