October – From the Minister

from “Remember Who You Are”
Sermon on the Ordination of the Rev. Laura Smidzik
September 19, 2015

As religious people we’re called to sacred patience and at the same time to a holy impatience; to quiet and disquietude; to the radical stillness of cupped hands and also to the clamor of raised voices shattering all silences.

As religious people, we dwell within a glad and awkward paradox: action and reflection, say the liberation theologians; ora et labora, prayer and work, say the Benedictines; waking and sleeping, says the rising of the sun and then its going down. Love till you’ve loved it away: this day that you’ve got, this life you’re given. You cannot rest; you have to rest. You must speak up, and you must shut up—and listen. We dwell within this paradox.

As people religious, you are called to the life of the spirit, and to the work of justice, and the fact is, it is all one life. We are here to grow our souls and to serve the world, we say. We are here to help each other do this.
What’s your story? What’s your prayer? Is there a thread you can trace, a way of seeing, being, and believing, the lifeline holding you steady through every day, as you sway between the call to prayer and the call to action? Teetering, as we all do, somewhere between “Be still my soul” and “Wake now, my senses,” how do you hold your ground, center your spirit, give voice to your power? That is not a question for ministers to answer; it’s a question for human beings to answer. The job of the minister is to keep asking it, over and over, and out loud in public at least once a week, to inflict upon people both affliction and solace, in equal measure, for as long as the people will have us.

These are intimate questions. We come to church, I think, to congregations, to community, to get help with our answers, to remember who we are, to find ourselves in a context that is larger than ourselves.