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Both of my ordination certificates declare that I have been “ordained as a [deacon/priest] in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”  It’s a line I cherish.  It links me (even if only in a vague and can’t-really-be-proved historically way) with everyone else who has ever done my job in any way, place, or time.  It’s profound.  And it’s important for how my Church understands itself and how I understand myself.

And yet sometimes I think it should have come with an * and some fine print at the bottom of the page.  I was ordained at 25.  I’m still the youngest clergy person in my diocese.  There is no sign that this will change in the near to middling future.  Most of my colleagues are my parents’ age.  Which doesn’t disturb me.  Until.

Until Gen Y or Millennials come up and every one looks at me.  (Or worse, no one looks at me because every one has forgotten that I’m actually there.)  Because clearly, I know everything about this generation that I barely belong to.*  Because even after you ignore all of the problems of dating a generation or a movement (as my history professors would say, “people don’t wake up one morning knowing they are a part of the next movement/era/generation”), I got ordained at 25.  I can intelligently discuss the hypostatic union, eschatology vs apocalypse, and the theology of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  And would often rather have those conversations or ones like them than talk about most TV shows, computer games, popular music, etc.

I may not actually represent my generation all that well.  Just because I’m in Church doesn’t mean the rest of them will find their way into the Church, and certainly doesn’t mean they’ll stay if they do.

I know things about my generation, this Millennial group, in part because I have worked with them for years, in part because I am like them, but also because I read everything I can get my hands on about them.  Then again, I also read about Gen X, Baby Boomers, the Greatest Generation, and everyone else, because my job means I have to figure all of them out.  They are all (or should all) be sitting in the pews.  Because we are all (or should all) be linked.

*Most dates that I see attached to Gen Y or Millennials start either right around the year I was born or right after.  Either way, I’m probably more accurately part of the cusp between Gen X and the Millennials, especially when I compare myself to my younger siblings.

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Yesterday, Pentecost, I was ordained as a priest in The Episcopal Church.  The entire weekend became a family and friend filled lead up to a wonderful service.  And it was wonderful.  It was the end of seven years of work in The Process.  It is the beginning of a journey.  And it was not my own.

This journey is not my own
They ask about me
They ask about my interests
They ask about my education
They ask about my health
They ask about my grades
They ask about my jobs
They ask about my family
And they listen to my replies
Because they care
Because they’ve been there
When I was little and precocious
When I was older and obnoxious
When there was tragedy in my family
When I was taking the earliest steps on this path
When I left for college and again for seminary
When I came back for ordination
And today, a day of culmination and beginning,
Their voices join together in pledging
The support they have already shown
Because I am theirs
A fact which bothers me not at all,
For they are mine
Our journeys are not our own
We belong to each other

written 5-13-09

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