Ten years ago today I nodded thanks to three congregations that had come together to raise me as a priest: St. Michael's-the congregation that nourished the seed God planted in me and then sent me off because at that time there would have been no way forward for me in the Diocese of the Rio Grande; St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sunnyvale, California, where I did my field education; and All Saints Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, California-the church that took me in as a refugee, that made me feel at home, that asked hard questions, that gave loving support and that hosted my ordination on January 3, 2003.
Ten years ago, people from all three congregations were there joining their voices together as they answered Bishop Shimpfky's questions, "Is it your will that Susan be ordained a priest?" and "Will you uphold her in this ministry?" I suspect that few present that day-and surely NOT me-fully understood how important that second question was and still is.
For it is the congregations a priest serves that form her as a priest. Today, I'm giving thanks for all the ways that the congregations I have served have called out the priest in me-both in the gravy times and in the hard times. I've learned so much from each of them and from you-the part of the Body of Christ we call Live at Five.
But most of all today I'm giving thanks for the many gifts of the last ten years: the gift of the Gospel and the gift of being called to and reminded of trying to follow it as best I can; the gift of a punk priest in California who invited me into ministry on the margins; the gift of talented priests and wise parishioners who have mentored me along the way; the gift of generosity on the part of people who have invited me into their lives; the gifts of hard times and challenging moments; the gift of serving with an amazing, diverse and quite wonderful assortment of lay servants at worship; the gift of serving two extraordinary and diverse congregations The list could go on and on.
At St. Martin's on Christmas Day one of the people who helps at worship, put her hand in the candy basket on the counter and pulled out a maple sugar Santa Claus. With a grin spreading across her face, she exclaimed, "This is the BOMB!" In her words, "You are the BOMB!" I'm so grateful to God for the privilege of serving you.
Blessings on this New Year!