Yesterday was a day I will never forget. I received Holy Orders from Bishop Shannon Johnston, the Bishop XIII of the Diocese of Virginia. So many images from the day.
I was told at the Annual Council of the Diocese, that there would be an "ontological difference" after my ordination. Someone immediately interrupted that comment, saying that the Episcopal Church was only affirming what God had already done a long time ago. I have to say that both were right. There was a dramatic feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit confirming all the time and effort that had gotten me to this point. When the Bishop pressed down and called on God's Spirit to fill me, with priests's hands surrounding my shoulders and back, I was surrounded with a feeling beyond words. "Veni Sancti Spiritus" was ringing in me ears as the congregation sung. I felt blessed; I felt changed. I became a priest. I did, however, recognize that this was not a new thing. It was a different thing. It was the next step on my journey. It was the following of Christ's lead that brought me to this place, this time, this Church. Thanks be to God.
I loved the music. "I Will Arise" (my favorite hymn) was a song I learned at my high school in my a cappella choir, and have sung it at every ordination I have had. (Three, if you are counting.) "Over My Head" was a gospel hymn I learned at St. Andrew's (my home parish). We had the choir from my school, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal, and the choir from St. Thomas', along with St. Andrew's, Holy Comforter and Creator Episcopal Churches. Also, the Bluegrass Band from our Bluegrass Mass, the Vasser Family Singers, joined in to make it an eclectic but fun service.
We celebrated the event with everyone afterwards at the reception, with it all happening so fast that I was not able to keep up with all of the conversations and dear, dear friends that had come out to support me from so many different areas of my life. I loved it, but it was a whirlwind.
The family came home and collapsed, chilling out, and napping in front of the Olympics for the rest of the day.
I went to bed at 10, and was up early to celebrate for the first time in the Episcopal Church. I celebrated at the 9 and 11 o'clock services. We used some of the prayers from The Priest's Handbook for the Celebration of the First Eucharist. At the first service I had a few hiccups that most would not notice, but I did. Despite that, I cannot tell you how moving it was to affirm the Grace of God through word and deed. I pronounced pardon at the sin of confession, praying for God's Grace to flow into me, and through me to all those that had sincerely prayed in repentance, and even more for those that did not. I broke the bread and shared the cup, asking for God's blessing for all those that received. I loved serving my wife, my children and my mother particularly. And then I got to do it all over again at 11. One lesson I learned was not to be timid. God's Grace was sufficient and powerful, and God's Grace is not timid. I learned much. I received much. Today was good.
One of the most moving parts of the whole weekend was Ben Campbell's sermon, reminding me of what I was doing and why. In my heart is the altar of reconciliation, not an altar to appease an angry God, but an altar to transform the world through costly love. An altar of reconciliation. A calling by my friend Ben, a prophecy from God. Lord, make me worthy and continue to shape me into the priest you would have me be. Thank you, Lord, for the weekend, and thank you all who helped me get here. Soli Deo Gloria.
Here is Ben's Sermon in Audio.
This is the blog of the Rev. Rock Higgins: I am the Episcopal Priest to the Center of the Universe. Really. This blog goes from my ordination to the present. Sins of omission and commission are fully my own, and I am leaning on the Grace-upon-Grace in my following of Christ. I serve as the Rector of St. James the Less Episcopal Church in Ashland, VA, also known as the Center of the Universe (CotU) to the locals.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
I am a Priest
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Take the altar of God everwhere...ReplyDelete
Congrats on taking the bold right step.