This week we hear from Mother Wendy on her calling to the priesthood and ordination in the time of COVID.
I was standing in a chapel service at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I was three rows back from the stage on the left side surrounded by lots of people. It was a Wednesday morning. After a hymn, the chapel service leader told us to stand and open our pew bibles to John 1:19-25 on page whatever.
“And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” …
At the verse “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” my arms holding the Bible started lifting the Bible up and down, up and down, up and down. I was pretty startled to see my arms do that, and immediately knew that God was signaling to me: you will be a sort of John the Baptist, drawing people to God. And then the phrase from John 3:30 came to mind: “He must become greater; I must become less.”
That call with my arms going up and down, along with other supernatural things God did with me in the time that followed, led me to realize that I was being called to ordained ministry. After much study and many appropriate hurdles, I was, as most of you reading this article know, ordained as deacon in December 2018 and as priest in December 2019. Four months later, COVID struck.
Since God is the God of timing, I found it exciting to notice that He had me ordained priest during a time when creativity, flexibility and administrative adeptness would soon be required. Apparently, according to a Strengths and Aptitude test I took years ago, I’m wired to quickly assess things, then offer solutions. And according to a Spiritual Gifts test, I am a “helper”.
A “helper” holds someone else’s arms up (like Hur did to Moses) so that they can succeed in the mission to which God has called them. I want to hold the arms up of Fr. Tim, and Dano, our operations expert, and of Olivia our administrator and outreach person. I want to hold the arms up of our Prayer Team, and of Flora and our Intercessors, and of Jennifer Drummond as she works on new offerings for spiritual direction, and of you during this season, so that they and you can become more.
“He must become greater; I must become less” means that Jesus would become greater and John the Baptist would become less. For me in the context of ministry at CTR, the connection and call seems to be that I would cry in the wilderness in this unusual season, that YOU would become greater.
Through healing prayer, you will become greater; through spiritual direction, you will become greater; through beauty in the sanctuary and in the prayer chapel, you will become greater.
In the wilderness of the months ahead, hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness. God is a very present help in time of trouble. And we’re here to help.
~ Mother Wendy †