God, you might have peeked over my shoulder and noticed that the last time I wrote it was entitled “The Last Time”. And here I am again, the last time.
This time, this last time, I give thanks for the funny stories, for the debates that sometimes got a bit, erm, strident, over lipstick that wouldn’t ruin the purificators. For the times we asked for help with rectories and job descriptions and book suggestions for groups large and small, for ways to love and hold the oldest and the youngest among us.
God I thank you for this group, seven thousand strong, who taught me to stand up straight, to speak clearly who I am called to be. I remember the first time I was called upon to preach your Good News, God. I wrote to this group and I said I am so scared. Right before it was time I suddenly felt warm, a smile broke out upon my face, and I was at peace, I stepped into that pulpit and I PREACHED and my voice didn’t tremble and my knees didn’t shake. And I know those were the prayers that were prayed. Thank you for all of those.
Thank you for the chances, for writing prayers and essays and reviewing books and learning about my own privilege. You know these people admitted me to ministry before anyone else did.
Thank you for the stories, thank you for the examples, before I’d ever even heard a woman preach. Thank you for the wisdom, the Matriarchs, the myriad and uncountable things to learn, for the discomfort in being put in my place, in realizing that I know absolutely nothing.
One of my favorite verses in your Bible goes,
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
Comfort us as we watch this group turn off the lights, and lock the doors, as it is finally time to go home. Speak tenderly to those who are in deep distress. Help us, all of us, to remember that we have served our terms and our penalties have been paid, that we are free and called by you to break bonds, repair breaches, wipe tears, and sometimes just to laugh until we weep.
Help us to open our hands to receive from yours.
I can’t offer a blessing just yet, but if I could, I would.
Alicia Hager resides in West Michigan and is a newly ordained Deacon (transitional) in the Episcopal Church. Alicia enjoys spending time with her daughters and her husband, is bonkers about her cats, and blogs at astrawberrypointe.wordpress.com.