by Ken Sehested
Note: On Reformation Sunday, 1981, my wife Nancy and I were jointly ordained to the ministry. The choice of Reformation Sunday was intentional.
Beloved, Who beckons us with the aroma of baking bread, Whose breast offers milk and sweet honey, Who showers manna in the wilderness, with fresh water from sheer rock, and instruction from the mountain.
We give thanks for our baptismal trek through the sea, on the road from slavery to freedom.
Even still, though the restraints on our hands have fallen, those on our hearts remain. We are anxious about our 401k’s and find ourselves longing for Pharaoh’s shiny baubles and Amazon’s free delivery. Even as our ancient kin were skeptical about Moses’ mandate, so too are we about the one from Jesus.
Disquiet haunts our dreams. Confidence in Your Dream fades. Sometimes, like Nicodemus—fear of losing a seat in the halls of power, of forfeiting “Gold” status or “Rewards” benefits—we slink through darkened streets for a clandestine encounter with Your incarnate Presence.
Thank you for keeping a light on, a door ajar, a gentle embrace, a welcoming table.
We live in a season, on a land, among a people, with much scalding. Our seas are burning. Our forests are burning. Our streets are burning. Pandemic’s fever surrounds.
We are confronted with the awful truth that many who have worn crosses are prominent among those who burn them.
Grant to us a reforming repentance that overshadows grief, that prompts not regret but joyful refrain. Rend and amend our hearts with the aborning power from above—beyond the reach of every marketeer—by the Spirit Who neither shames nor tames but unleashes courage and prowess and perseverance.
Beloved, send Your angels to remind us that we are a delight to the Most High.
And thereby make us audacious, for the living of these days.
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For a personal family backstory to this occasion, see "Hearts over heads: A Reformation Sunday ordination story."