Pentecost and Ordination

Today is Pentecost. Fifty days after Easter. The day, according to Acts chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit came down upon all the people gathered for the feast in Jerusalem (because Pentecost, or Shavout – the Festival of Weeks – was already a Jewish holiday celebrated 50 days after the beginning of Passover). The Holy Spirit came down upon the people, and they began to speak in tongues so that everyone could understand, each in his or her own language. It is considered by many Christians to be the birthday of the church. The color for Pentecost is red, because it is the color that represents the Holy Spirit.

Today was also the annual meeting of my home congregation. Now, the congregation didn’t plan for the meeting to fall on Pentecost. To be fair, most Unitarian Universalists I think don’t pay that much attention to liturgical calendars. Some do, but many don’t. It’s just the time of year when we have our annual meeting, and it just happens that today is Pentecost.

We UU’s are congregational in our polity. That means that the power rests in the congregations. We elect our officers – our church officers and our denominational leadership (which is, if you really want to get down to it, an association of congregations). And it also means that the power of ordination rests in the hands of the congregations. I was granted preliminary fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association, but before I can claim the title “Reverend,” I must be ordained, and only a congregation can do that.

Today, my home congregation voted unanimously to ordain me.  The congregation I serve as intern minister also voted to ordain me at their annual meeting in May. So sometime in what I hope is the not-too-distant future, there will be a service, and the two congregations  will jointly ordain me as a minister.

But today, Pentecost, as churches around the world remember the founding of the church and the call to spread the word, my home congregation voted. They voted yes. This is the congregation that just a few years ago voted to sponsor me for the ministry, enabling me to move along on this path. This is the congregation that helped form me – where I discovered Christianity. The congregation where I learned how to be a lay leader. The congregation that cared for me when my son died and when my husband died. These are my people.

In many Christian churches, the color for ordination is red. Ordained ministers who attend are often invited to wear red stoles, and the ordinand’s first stole at ordination is often red. This is a bow to the Holy Spirit and Pentecost.

That the vote occurred today is, therefore, not lost on me. I heard this call to ministry years ago.  I’ve felt the Holy Spirit moving in my life many times. Today, when we remember the Holy Spirit coming down and touching us with tongues of fire, I am ignited by the call from God and the affirmation of two congregations.

I am so grateful for the love and support. I don’t take this on lightly. May I be worthy of the faith these congregations have placed in me.

That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.

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