Monday, June 05, 2006

Pentecost Aflame!

Pentecost is my favorite high holy day in the Christian tradition. I like it more that Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter. Pentecost is often observed as the birthday of the Christian church--or rather, the early Christians looked back and said that was the day that motivated their coming together. I love the music, the liturgy, and the opportunity to experience the Spirit's power.

I also like Pentecost because every minister who can do it, has that day as either their Ordination or their Installation services. And this is where the service really comes alive! Yesterday after church (and a funeral in the early afternoon), I went to New York City and watched my last ordination candidate (I was her ordination advisor) get ordained in the Riverside Church. Lasting for 2 hours, Susan Switzer had an incredible service in which the Rev. Barbara Lundblad delivered the message. Rev. Lundblad was both Susan's and mine's preaching professor at Union Seminary. And, she is considered by many to be one of America's foremost preachers. And she was unbelievable! Then, Susan walked up to the front of the church, knelt down, and the congregation gathered around her to lay hands on her as she was ordained.

Checking my watch, it was unfortunate that I couldn't stay longer. Me and a few others at the Ordination service had to leave--we still had one more ceremony to attend: James Campbell's Installation Service at my former church, Broadway UCC.

Accompanied by the former pastor, the Rev. Dr. Bonnie Rosborough, she and I scurried off together to participate in a ceremony that symbolized both the celebration of James as the new pastor at Broadway UCC but also one that symbolized the 'passing of our torches' to James. Bonnie was Broadway's pastor for 20 years and I was its former Assistant and acting-pastor after Bonnie left for a little over 4 years.

James' Installation service was incredible. I have never before or since witnessed or participated in such an extraordinary event. Doug Drake, the music director at Broadway, had a stringed chamber quartet accompanying a huge 15 person choir. For James' service, the entire congregation was packed with friends, collegues, and parishioners. There were also 15 ordained clergy persons participating in the service. With festive music and an incredible liturgy, the service gave you goose bumps, make you cry, and caused a celebratory experience like none other.

Following the service, I gathered with everyone in the Undercroft for James' reception. It was the first time I had seen members of the church since I left 6 months ago. I was so excited to see everyone and it was a truly joyous occasion.

When I got home, I sat down on my couch. I sat down, instead of laying down. I knew if I laid down I would fall asleep on the couch all night. Instead, I sat down, stretched my legs and lazily drooped my head down and, suddently and without thinking about it, I fell asleep right there! I slept for 9 hours sitting on my couch, sitting up. I still can't believe I did that. I was sooooooooo tired.

As I type this now and reflect on my day yesterday, I will count June 4, 2006 as one of the best days I have ever witnessed. Thank you Susan Switzer and James Campbell for your incredible and future ministries--and for letting my both witness and participate in the ceremonies that marked and commissioned your ministerial lives.

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