Let all things now living, a song of thanksgiving to God the creator triumphantly raise.”
As I prepare to retire after 14 years at Gethsemane and 36 years of ordained ministry, I find myself looking around my office and offering a song of thanksgiving for those who have been part of the journey.
The cover of my ordination invitation reminds me of all who encouraged and supported that call, especially in days when women in ordained ministry were not commonly experienced. Like the woman at the well, I experienced a call to preach, to share in word and deed the grace of One who knows me and accepts me and whose love changes everything. We all stand here on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.
A quilt hanging made by the church secretary at Zion Lutheran, Ferguson, reminds me “I Can’t Kill These Plants!” In other words, it’s not about me! And in the midst of joys and frustrations, successes and failures, in the words of St.
Benedict: Never despair of God’s mercy! What a word of consolation for all who are engaged in work where we’re never sure of what will happen to seeds that are planted.
After a sermon in which I quoted St. Augustine, someone (you know who you are!) gave me a poster containing his quotation: “Hope has two beautiful daughters, their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” I am so grateful to have served with a congregation willing to get angry at injustice, be courageous in welcome, and show up in support of the vulnerable!
In the midst of my cancer surgery and treatment, I received a card from Lois Pfeiffer who was in the midst of her own cancer walk. The card reminded me I was “covered” with love and prayer. I give thanks for the privilege of walking with Lois and so many others in that journey toward the place/time when there are no more tears, no more pain, no more dying, only light. Thank you for inviting me into those holy places of your lives.
The most recent addition to my office is a gift from my husband, Jeff. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Jeff helps me sing songs of thanksgiving even when my voice gives out and I can’t hold the melody. What a gift he is!
And we persist! Because we never retire from the ministry to which we are all called as baptized children of God…to live among God’s faithful people, to proclaim Christ through word and deed, to care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.
So, “We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing; with glad adoration a song let us raise till all things now living unite in thanksgiving: “to God in the highest, hosanna and praise!” (ELW #881)
Pastor Kendra Nolde