In the film History Boys, one of the students is asked to define history. He says, “It’s just one bloody thing after another.”
Life sometimes feels like it’s ‘just one bloody thing after another.’ Millions of moments are woven into a pattern we call life. Some moments stand out. From time to time we look back over the years and see things that stick up – some are like the Himalayas with its 29,000-foot Everest: a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child, or several of them, a job we got (or didn’t get) a divorce, a death, an illness, or near-fatal accident, and so forth.
The life of a congregation is also ‘one bloody thing after another.’ The gathering in someone’s living room, and when the living rooms aren’t big enough, renting the Women’s Club, and when that’s not big enough renting the Saugatuck School, and when the time and conditions are right the construction of a building. It’s about the calling of ministers and the leave-taking of ministers; it’s about Homecoming Services, Spring Flings, divisive controversies that threaten the life of the congregation, and the gradual, almost unnoticed, healing that happens over time.
Yesterday’s Service of Ordination for Leela Sinha, a child of this congregation, was a Himalaya.
The sanctuary was hushed with the Chamber Choir’s rendition of Felix Adler’s assertion that ‘the place where we meet to seek the highest holy ground,’ arranged by Ed Thompson, followed by the inspiring hymn, Rank by Rank, which includes lines like: “Ours the years’ memorial store, honored days and names we reckon, days of comrades gone before, lives that speak and deeds that beckon…guard we well the crown the won, what they dreamed be ours to do, hope their hopes, and seal them true.”
John Mason offered warm greetings from the Board, and from you – from the congregation that voted to ordain Leela; Denny Davidoff summarized our ‘statement of purpose’ with a brief history of congregational polity and ordination; Margie Allen did a wonderful call to worship, chanting Hindu tradition, and the Chamber choir sang ‘Simple Boat.’ The stage was set.
Connie Rockman offered a story, in the spirited style of story-tellers and Carolyn Lavender spoke for the Living Tradition Fund. Marc Loustau, another child of our church who is moving toward ministry as he completes his seminary degree, shared his warm presence with a reading, and I was honored to offer the sermon, ‘To Seek the Truth in Love.’
Then came the actual Ordination, led by our Board Chair, Alan Wieman who made it official by asking Leela the big question; “Are you ready to enter into this ministry?” She responded with an enthusiastic, “I am.” Her friend and colleague Debra Faulk led us in a laying on of hands, connecting us all to Leela; Alan presented Leela with a stole; and Debra Haffner welcomed her into ministry – when she called Leela ‘Reverend,’ there was a prolonged applause.
Leela’s friends and colleagues Art Lavoie and Brian Kopke charged the congregation and the new minister with words of wisdom, Leela gave the benediction and it was done. Wonderful!