I tend to think in metaphors; if I can get a metaphor out of my brain and have it actually make sense to others then it means that I have begun to grasp whatever important concept I am trying to more fully understand. Early on in my discernment to the priesthood, a metaphor stuck, and has only become sharper in its meaning and its ability to describe my own sense of call and priestly identity.
One of the first things that I noted when I got the opportunity to serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister was the way in which the chalice cup reflected back to me not just Becca in a cassock and surplice (words I didn’t even know at the time), but that in the reflection of the chalice cup I saw myself most clearly. The fisheye image that bounced back off of the silver chalice cup was not the most realistic or life-like image, but it was the image in which the person that God has created me to be came through most clearly. It was this wonky image in which I saw myself reflected, not as a smart, caring person although those are important aspects of who I am; no, what I saw reflected back to me was God’s servant finally being able to serve God’s people. Time after time, I tipped that oversized cup as God’s people were communed, and time after time I began to see myself more and more clearly.
At my Diaconal ordination back in June, the first time I saw myself vested in a stole was in the reflection of the chalice cup; as I helped serve the bishop communion on that blessed night, one of the things that it seared into my memory is the reflection of that red diagonal stole. My first ordination was deeply important and while I struggle with the need/necessity/purpose of the transitional diaconate, I cannot imagine my priesthood without that first ordination.
Last week I was ordained to the priesthood. Those who have walked the entirety of this path with me share, I believe, in the awe of that statement. By all counts, last week should not have happened; if you were reading the story of my life, the next chapter shouldn’t be serving as a priest in a vibrant, loving parish community, but by God’s grace, it is.†
Last week, on the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, I was ordained to Christ’s one, holy, apostolic, and catholic church as a priest by a bishop who I admire and who played a significant role in my formation and discernment. I was ordained in a service that was privileged to have two bishops who worked well together and who represent both my past and my future within the Episcopal Church; this, it is not lost on me, is something that is such a gift.I was ordained in a service during which my good friend, mentor, and now fellow priest, preached a great sermon and delivered a powerful charge for me and for my ordained priesthood. I was ordained surrounded by visiting clergy who support me and a clergy team at Christ Church with which I am so privileged to work.
I was ordained surrounded by people who love me despite my calling to the priesthood and those who love me because of my calling. I was ordained with my family and those who are like family standing at my side. I was ordained supported by people who have known me my whole life and those who have only known me a couple of months , but who treat me like family. I was ordained. It’s still surreal and amazing.
I was ordained, but more importantly, I, even still, saw myself most clearly in the reflection of the chalice cup. The first time I saw myself in a stole and chasuble dressed as a priest was in the reflection of the chalice cup as it was elevated by the bishop in prayer for the communing of God’s people, and I was reminded that the place in which I see myself most clearly is in the Eucharist and in God’s insatiable, irresistible call to be made whole and to be invited to a deeper faith in the work of the Communion of God’s people.
I am so deeply grateful and so intensely moved by this experience and with the joy at being called to serve in my first call with such a loving, supportive community.
† For a long time, 1 Corinthians 15:10 has been important to me. I had it on a post-it in my car for a while and even still I will casually drop it into a conversation, but never has it meant more to me than as I reflect on my journey to the priesthood and the ways in which God’s grace has been continually present with me. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
The Rev. David Romanik’s sermon can be read here, and the video of the ordination can be seen here. So much work goes into planning an event like this and I am so grateful for the extra work done by the staff at Christ Church, the volunteers, and both the Diocese of Northwest Texas and the Diocese of Kentucky, along with Bishops Mayer and White.