Nine years ago—this weekend exactly—I was ordained to Christian ministry. I remember a few things about that day; I remember that the church ladies who raised me put together a wonderfully warm and abundant reception; I remember the many people who drove some miles to be with me for the occasion; I remember the robe being placed on my shoulders and the hands being laid upon my head, shoulders and back; I recall feeling surrounded by blessing, strength, and a very real sense of the Holy Spirit moving in our midst.
And I remember that God Almighty Herself showed up in some of the most violent storms I’ve ever encountered in my life. People were late to the service. Then, people were stuck in fellowship hall until the next wave passed. And then, not one, but TWO of my friends had car accidents on the interstate, trying to get back home afterward. We may be superstitious about the weather in that part of the world—however, I choose to believe that the winds and thunder and even hail of that afternoon were IN NO WAY a reflection of God’s feelings toward my answering a call to ministry. It was a truly epic storm, but I’m sure—I’m really, almost, pretty certain—that God was not raining down lightning to point out the absurdity of me wearing that robe.
All this to say that being friends with a pastor is risky business. Just ask my people who drove through the elements to bless me, and especially the ones that had to call in tow trucks to get them home after. And well—if being somehow RELATED to a clergy person is risky, then I don’t need to share that actually BEING a minister comes with its own set of liabilities. For life.
My Hebrew and OT professor used to say this about the prophets: “When someone in the Bible says ‘here I am…send me,’ you can be sure that nothing GOOD is about to happen to them. ‘Here I am, Lord’ never ends well for the one who speaks it.
And we all said—gee, thanks, Dr D… as we trotted off to be ordained servants of the Lord. That’s real inspirational and encouraging stuff.
What Dr. Davison tells us today—and what I’m sure she MEANT at the time, even if she was trying to weed out the wimps—is that when a person says “Here I am Lord,’ then nothing EASY is about to happen to them. Good? That’s another matter entirely. While not easy, a life of ministry is full of good things.
Once we utter that fated ‘here I am’–whether we’re answering a call to vocational ministry, or the call to a life of discipleship–we find that God uses our extraordinary gifts, and our ordinary shortcomings; our everyday encounters and our glimpses of miracle; our really great stories and some we’d just as soon forget…God can use every inch of us, and every minute of our days, to bring good news to life in the world. If we are willing to be so used.
This calling is not a one-time, burning bush sort of moment. God calls us daily; and so daily, we listen; daily, we follow. And daily, we’re reminded that the sacred word is not such a rare gift after all. God’s mercies are new every morning; so every morning, we say ‘yes,’ and ‘here I am,’ and preach some good news into the darkness. Amen.