There were several "firsts' for me as a pastor last month and they were practically back to back. Early in the month I attended the ordination of a dear classmate from seminary. This is the first time I have done so since my own ordination in July. This means I was able to "vest and process" (wear my own clerical garb and process in with other clergy). It also means that when it was time for the laying on of hands of my dear friend, I was able to do so with other pastors. I was able during much of the service to watch my friend's face and see the peaceful glow of God's presence in her life.
I had the joy of performing my first baptism--of a 14 year old boy who was taller than I am. Ok, those of you who know me...no laughing. I know I'm usually the shortest person around. I even had to ask him to kneel so I could reach high enough to pour the baptismal water on his head. As I got to "...in the Son," the powerful reality of what I was a participant in hit me like a ton of bricks and I found the emotions welling up within me.
The following Saturday I had the privilege of doing my first wedding. This couple and I had walked together through premarital sessions together and I felt like I had really gotten to know them. The wedding took place outdoors against a backdrop of hills with turning leaves and a stream with Amish men fishing in a small boat. It was simple and elegant all at once. It was an amazing experience of God's grace at work in our lives together. Again the reality hit me of what was happening and I found myself having to keep it together emotionally. The bride was on the verge of tears and I knew that if she started to cry, I would not be far behind.
I love what it means to be a pastor--to be able to enter into people's lives as they begin journeys of faith and relationship and when their journey on this earth is completed. We hear confidences, lead worship, administer the sacraments of bread and bath. We pray for and cry with the people of God. It is a unique privilege and I thank God for his call and his people.