Two weeks ago, my daughter, Amy Beveridge was ordained and called as a Lutheran pastor, of Bethel Lutheran Church, in Templeton, California. Bethel is a beautiful church, the oldest Lutheran church building in California, and was built with bricks made from the mud of the Salinas River. It’s a lovely setting in a small town, nestled in the vineyard country of the Central Coast of California, about twenty miles inland from the Pacific. The ordination was held at her church, and was a supreme joy for all who came to celebrate with her, as I’m sure you can imagine. We were wondering if anyone knows how many mother-daughter pastor families there are in the ELCA. I know our Synod (New England) has some, besides Amy and me.
Ordinations are always powerful happenings. This one, in its simplicity and directness, spoke again of the way God continues to nourish the church with outpourings of his Spirit. We were one week away from Pentecost, and the Spirit was certainly present that afternoon. It resembled a family reunion, in some ways, because so many people from different parts of my daughter’s life came to attend, in addition to the participation of the church members of her new call. Several moments stood out, but a very poignant one was when she stood before Bishop Dean Nelson, all by herself, my very small, 5’1″ daughter, and listened as he read out to her the vows, and asked if she would serve God’s people. Later we talked about it, and she said she didn’t feel alone at all, surrounded as she was by all the people who had come for her and for the church, and for Christ.
We prayed for our New England Assembly, and for the tornado victims in the Midwest, and in the Northeast, especially in Springfield. We felt connected deeply to the wider church, and the language of the ordination rite emphasized the breadth and depth of God’s care for all people. In such moments, I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit has the church well in hand.
Later in the week, before returning, two of our parishioners, Pam and Ross Burton, who live part-time now in Foster City, California, organized a dog blessing in a nearby park. Pam and Ross got a new puppy, recently, and have become ardent dog-lovers. With a bow to St. Francis, we gathered with a group of families who like to walk their dogs early in the morning. Ten dogs enthusiastically and energetically participated in the blessing at Farrugut Park, early last Thursday morning (June 9th). The dogs enjoyed being sprinkled with water, and reminded that in their faithful friendship, they are ever examples of unconditional love, especially when their human companions forget to be glad all over. We’re hoping the animal blessing becomes a tradition at the park.
Though I was on vacation, the mood of Pentecost was upon us everywhere. I was happy to be serving Christ and his people in the ELCA, and as happy as a mom can be.