Tuesday, September 21, 2010


We sat there together and heard it week after week, Sunday after Sunday.  We heard it from Jimmie our minister and we heard it from other ministers at virtually all of the other churches we have attended.  We heard it and were moved by it as my niece spoke the words at her own ordination.  It is one of the things Marty remembers, it is one of the things that moved Marty then, it is one of the things that still captures her.
Go out in to the world in peace;
have courage;
hold on to what is good;
return no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak, and help the suffering;
honor all people;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The charge fits at the end of the service, the time when you receive instruction to carry your faith from the safety of the sanctuary to the ugliness of the real world.  To Marty it was always one of the most meaningful parts of the service, consequently she can still recite it. 
Marty was certainly not an overly religious woman, in fact she was and still is irreverent, but she was and remains a spiritual person.  She felt a fellowship with the brokenness of the church, she was moved by the forgiveness of the people of the church and the concept of undeserved grace, and she drew hope from the teachings of the church.   She found a home in the Presbyterian Church because, as she said, “Presbyterians are like the Miller Lite of Christianity, all of the religion but a third less guilt.”  Rim shot.
She, I, am often amazed at the sense of connection felt in our church; never more so than when I sat in my sister’s church in a service of ordination for Presbyterian Preacher Kate.  I sat in the sanctuary next to my brother, next to my father, next to my sister watching my niece be ordained.  I sat in the sanctuary and listened as my niece spoke the words of the charge in her new role as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament, “Go out into the world in peace.” I sat and listened to the words as Kate read them and in the background, just barely audible I could hear Marty’s hum as Kate continued, “have courage, hold on to what is good.”
I was touched by how the words coming from my niece connected me, my family, and the other people of the church to others who heard those words earlier in the day, “return no evil for evil.”  I was touched and remembered how the words Kate was reading reached Marty, “strengthen the faint hearted,” and I could hear Marty’s hum gently adding to the background of the moment, “support the weak and help the suffering.” 
I turned from where I was sitting, I looked to my right and behind me and saw Marty as the words continued to roll out, “honor all people.”  Marty had looked to where I was sitting and smiled, a smile of recognition, a smile of contentment, a smile of connection, “love and serve the Lord.”  I smiled at Marty, a smile that I hope said I love you and I’m proud of you, as Kate ended the charge, “rejoicing in the power of the holy spirit.” 
Marty continued to look at me and kept humming.  I was touched by the moment.  It was one of those serendipitous events that touch you so deeply you know as you experience the moment it will be etched not only in your mind but in your heart.  It was one of those moments where things were in balance, where the feelings of connection with Marty, with family, with church, with God, with history were in tune and clearly part of our life’s rhythm. 


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