Pastor John has aptly called this blog, “Glimpses of Grace.” It has offered an opportunity to reflect on how God has graciously shown up in the midst of life individually and life together. Yet, in the last couple of weeks, for me, grace has not just peeked in like a thin shaft of sunlight through a slightly open curtain. No, the curtains of my life have been blown wide open and the light of God’s grace has filled the entire room. I have experienced almost the whole gamut of human emotion in these days and continue to see God, who is faithful, in midst of it all. Side by side stand grief and tragedy with celebration and joy. This was no more visible than in the juxtaposition of funerals and my service of ordination and installation. John reflected on some of the funerals in the last post (“Bethany as the Beautiful Gate”), so I will share about my ordination and installation.
In short, “WOO HOO!” This is not just my reaction after the fact but was actually what naturally erupted from me during the service when I was officially presented as an ordained Teaching Elder (minister). With God’s leading through years of preparation, the day had finally arrived. At that moment when the church confirmed God’s redeeming work in and call on my life, I had no words just a shout of joy!! What an amazing experience.
Everything about the celebration and service exceeded my expectations and was beyond what I had ever hoped. What a holy time of worship?! The service was long (sorry for those with little ones) but it was filled with the power, passion and presence of our living Savior, Jesus Christ. Pastor John preached on Isaiah chapter 6 and we who gathered together were like those seraphs in the passage calling to one another as we sang and prayed, “Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is. 6:3).
After the service we moved the party out of the sanctuary and into the great room. I was amazed to see the room bursting with people; kids, my own very much included, running amuck (as we love to see here at Bethany), folks seated around tables enjoying each other’s company, and a steady stream of my brothers and sisters in the Lord greeting my family who were visiting from out of town. The rich fellowship continued as we shared an incredible meal together and those who left hungry did so of their own accord because there was an abundance of food as we reveled in God’s amazing provision.
The pie kept my attention longer than I had intended but once I finished I had the chance to visit with so many of you at the tables. Thank you for patience as I made my way, but even more, thank you for being a huge part of this milestone day in my life. Your support and encouragement was so moving. I was amazed to see your excitement and joy for what God has done in me and your faith in what God will do as we minister together in the years to come.
God used so many people in my journey toward ordination and during the celebration. My wonderful wife Abby has been strength when I had none, accountability when I needed it, encouragement when I have doubted myself and my call, and laughter when I started to take myself too seriously. Wesley and Ella have given their dad a lot of grace and patience as I have written lots of papers, learned and continue to relearn how to be the dad that they need, and brought them on the great adventure of moving to Pittsburgh. I was blown away by the support of my family who came in from out of town.
I also want to thank those folks who led us so well in worship: my friend Bill Stephens, the Reverend Jeff Tindall (on behalf of the moderator of Pittsburgh presbytery), Elder George Krock (Westminster Presbyterian Church), the Reverend Chris Brown (The Upper Room new church development), our own Becky Yanak and Melany Hamilton, as well as the choir under John Henninger’s leadership.
I don’t know all of the individuals involved but I know that there was an incredible effort from the Bethany family in making this day a reality. Some of you were involved in the planning and many, many were involved in the execution. So, thank you Presbyterian Women, deacons, B.O.B’s, staff, and others for your work in setup, cleanup, bulletins, invitations, flowers, linens, china, sound, lighting, serving, praying, and all those other things you did to make this a great day. Finally, I want to thank the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee. These folks worked so hard in the process of getting me here. They sought the Lord in scripture, listened and pleaded with the Him in prayer, diligently considered possible candidates, questioned me, listened well to me but even more to God, and have supported us through every part of this transition including this ordination and installation party.
I still don’t think words have done justice to the day but I was incredibly blessed through my ordination and installation celebration; but I was most gratified by the fact that in the end it was not about me but about the Lord. Together we worshipped, we served, and we partied because God is good and he has plans for you, me and his kingdom!