On this day 10 years ago, Bishop Moncure placed his hands on my head and other hands joined his. The hand of my District Superintendent, the hand of the Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the hand of Rev. Kathleen Baskin my mentor pastor, the hand of the Order of Elders, so many hands. My husband Lee put his hand on my back as our almost two year old daughter sat in the congregation. My family had gathered, friends were there, and church families from Oak Lawn UMC and Krum UMC. As I knelt down and the Bishop ordained me, those who loved me stood in support and love of me. And the Bishop said these words:
"Kerry Sumpter Smith, take thou authority as an elder in the Church to preach the Word of God, and to administer the Holy Sacraments."
I remember that the weight of those hands was so heavy. And then the hands lifted and the weight was gone and I stood and turned around to be greeted with a Communion cup from my Intern Pastor, Dr. Justin Tull, from Oak Lawn UMC. He was retiring and I was just beginning.
It has taken me a long time to comprehend the enormity of that moment.
Being a pastor has been such a joy and such a responsibility. As a pastor I am granted the opportunity to be with people at the liminal moments of their lives. When they receive the cancer diagnosis, when they share the news for the first time that they are transgender, when they have had a child, when they have lost a child, when they are being welcomed into God's loving arms as they join the company of the saints. To be able to baptize someone and welcome them into the Christian Church and to say this prayer over them, "May the Holy Spirit work within you that having being born through water and the Spirit you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus the Christ."
A few weeks ago I confirmed my daughter. My daughter who was almost two when I was ordained. My daughter who has grown up in the Christian Church. And to say that prayer to her made me think about what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus the Christ. "May the Holy Spirit work within you that having being born through water and the Spirit you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus the Christ."
What does it mean for me to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ? What does it mean for me to take thou authority as an elder in the Church to preach the Word of God, and to administer the Holy Sacraments?
For me it means that I am called to love and learn from everyone. Everyone. EVERYONE.
For me it means that I want to be on the journey with everyone together. I don't have all of the answers, but I know that I can walk alongside people as we seek God's presence together.
God called me into ordained ministry because I wanted to make a difference in the world. God called me into ordained ministry because I love Jesus and I want to share that love so that everyone knows that Jesus loves them too.
We are all called to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for the transformation of the world (Matthew 28:19).
Maybe on this day that I remember and celebrate the 10th year of my ordination, maybe I am embracing the idea that I am only me. I can only be me. And maybe the weight that I felt that day wasn't a bad weight, maybe it was a good weight. Maybe each hand that was on my head, maybe each person that stood was showing me that I am never alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.