Ordination Day and the Mystery of God's Love

Editor's Note: This letter from Jenny Warner was printed in the program for her recent ordination to Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on March 26, 2011. This week, she begins a new position as Pastor for Justice, Spirituality, and Community at First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon.

Friends,

I am so honored that you are here today, marking the end of one very long process of study, preparation, questions, tears, and delight, and the beginning of another lifelong journey into the joy and struggle of being a pastor.

I want this day to be less about me and more about the profound mystery of God's love, less about my call and more about God's call to each of us to participate in God's dreams of reconciliation and wholeness for our world. Being ordained, in one sense, means nothing because we are all invited into that dream, and in another sense, it means everything, because we are invited and each given a different role.

I absolutely never intended to be an ordained Presbyterian minister. Seven years ago, I barely knew what a Presbyterian was and I was incredibly suspicious of organized religion. My path to ordination was ironically born out of profound pain and disillusionment that I experienced in church, but also my persistent belief that what the church is and does is not always what God is and does. I have found I am not the only one who has had that belief. The history, the liturgy, and the theology of organized religion often reflect the struggle to find God despite the disappointments of religion. Or, as Jon Stewart says: "Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion."

So, here we are, and the fact that what was never my desire has become my call seems like evidence that something much larger than me has opened the doors to this day.

There is so much to be done in this world, so much beauty waiting to be born, so much pain to be healed, so much justice waiting to burst in places where power is misused. But today, we stand in the midst of all that and declare that joy is in our hearts. Joy is in our hearts because when we get a glimpse of the quiet movement of God, we know that love will always triumph and the arc of the universe does bend toward justice.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for celebrating with me today.

Jenny