Bishop Scott Mayer ordained Annette Mayer a priest on Thursday, March 1, 2018, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Keller. A reception followed, hosted by St. Martin’s, St. Alban’s, Theater Arlington; and St. Stephen’s, Hurst, all congregations where Mayer has served. The Rev. Maurine Lewis preached.
Lewis began her sermon by welcoming everyone “on this most joyous occasion, the ordination of Annette.”
And, she said, “. . .it’s time. In theology class in seminary we talk some about time. Greek has two words for time: kairos and chronos. You may have heard those words in adult forums or from the pulpit, but if you aren’t sure of the different meanings of those words, Annette will be happy to explain them to you. She knows, in a very visceral way, what they mean.”
The responding laughter made it clear most of the congregation appreciated the reference as well. Mayer began her discernment process in 2008.
Watch a video of the sermon, or read it below.
Watch a short video of the ordination below or on YouTube.
Watch a slideshow of photos from the ordination.
Click or swipe the gallery link below for more photos at the diocesan Flickr gallery.
Read the sermon.
The Priestly Ordination of Annette Mayer in the Episcopal Church
1 March 2018 St. Martin’s in the Field
Ephesians 4:7, 11-16
In the name of the Three. In the name of the One. Amen.
Good evening. Welcome to all of you on this most joyous occasion, the ordination of Annette, into this part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. And my sisters and brothers, it’s time. In theology class in seminary we talk some about time. Greek has two words for time: kairos and chronos. You may have heard those words in adult forums or from the pulpit, but if you aren’t sure of the different meanings of those words, Annette will be happy to explain them to you. She knows, in a very visceral way, what they mean.
It might be useful to us to think a little bit about what we expect from a priest. Now it can be told. We have the formula for a perfect priest. An old friend, a colleague from Wisconsin gave it to us several years ago, and I think it’s worth repeating. I don’t know who did the original research.
“Results of a recent computerized survey indicate that the perfect priest preaches exactly fifteen minutes. He or she condemns sin, but never embarrasses anyone. He or she works from 8 a.m. until midnight and is also the janitor.
“The perfect priest makes $60 a week, wears good clothes, drives a new car, and gives $50 a week to the poor. He or she is 28 years old, has been preaching for 25 years, is wonderfully gentle and good looking, loves to work with teenagers, plays the guitar, and spends countless hours with senior citizens.
“The perfect priest makes 15 calls a day on parish families, shut-ins and hospital patients, and is always in his/her office when needed.
“If your priest does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other parishes that are tired of their imperfect priests too. Then bundle up your priest and send her/him to the church at the top of the list. In one week you will receive 1,643 priests. One of them should be perfect.”
Well, I have outrageous news for you. Annette’s not perfect. Nor am I. How ’bout you, +Scott? Nor are these folks in the front rows. And if any priest were, that person would not serve you well, because you might get the idea that priests are such holy people, that only they are perfect enough have God’s ear or ever want it, and that means that the rest of the church can relax into mediocrity. It can muddle along being pretty ordinary, and can forget about doing something, as Mother Teresa said, wonderful for God.
Hogwash, I say. There are two kinds of priesthood, you know. Yes, some of us are called to ordained priesthood, to the order of Melchisidek. Annette has been called to live out that ministry. But then there’s the priesthood of all believers, and you all were ordained to that at your baptisms, whether in your godparent’s arms, or later, when you were too big to fit there any longer. Annette isn’t divine. She’s just a woman who has heard the call, and said along with Isaiah “Here am I. Send me.” But because she has said yes to that call, she has become a finger pointing at the moon. She is not the moon, but the finger pointing at it. And because she is that finger, and because she will soon be in her new parish, she is someone to follow.
Annette, would you stand up please. On my own I’ve been conducting an informal survey over several years among my colleagues to see if any of them remembered the charge given them at their ordinations. I’ve been surprised that many couldn’t remember what it was. I suspect that they forgot what was a pretty insipid and general kind of thing. There are excellent lessons to be learned from this exercise. I understand that Bishop High has given a good one: Show Up. Be there. It would benefit all of us to remember that directive. My charge to you, Annette, is related to that, but just a little different.
I charge you to be among these people as an example. You are to be a parson, a person who shows by example what it means to want passionately to follow Christ. Ed Friedman, the great guru of family systems theory in religious settings, said that leadership is not totally about doing. It’s about being, too. So Annette, be here as God’s messed up little darlin’, trying to be not successful but faithful. Martin Buber says that God has many names, but success isn’t one of them. Let the words which characterize your ministry be these: Responsive. Authentic. That’s my version of showing up.
The church will wound you. It won’t want to. It won’t mean to, but it’s needier than you can take care of; it will want to devour your time and energy and sometimes your soul. You won’t be able to do it all. But show folks that you care about them as much as you are able, knowing that some people need 24/7 attention that you can’t give. Show them that you care about yourself and Don and Danni and the kids. Feed your passion for books, feed your passion for good food. Care for yourself so that you can care for others. Let them see you stumble, let them see you grow. And let them see you love yourself and laugh at yourself in your finitude, your fallibility, your humanity. It’s the loving, compassionate, tender thing to do. It’ll help give them permission to do the same for themselves. Here’s your charge in two words. Responsiveness. Authenticity.
Sometimes that’s hard. Those wonderful folks in the Diocese of Chicago will do their very best to shove you up onto that pedestal. Don’t go. Resist. If they get you up there, climb down again as soon as you notice. You are no holier than they are. They might get the mistaken idea that they can and need to aspire to perfection.
The rest of you: on your feet. Laity, you have been given treasures in your clergy. Treat them like the treasures they are. Yes, they have studied, but more than that, they have calluses on their knees from conversation with the One Who loves them and you best. That makes for some wisdom, which doesn’t really have much to do with amassing information. So learn to ask questions before you make assumptions and judgments. You may not know all the reasons for what they do, and they may not be able to tell you the reasons, either because it might violate a confidence from someone else, or because they’ve not been able to formulate a reason—yet. I don’t expect that the disciples knew why Jesus did what he did, and he even explained himself more than once.
And the same goes for your lay community, your companions and colleagues in the priesthood of all believers. Love them. Delight in them. Work with them. Life is too short to spend your time and energy winkling out what’s wrong with everybody else.
Clergy, you too. Love and support your colleagues, both lay and ordained. Be a safe space for a brother or sister to whine in, to express doubts in, to celebrate triumphs in. Because in the end all we have is each other.
Annette has been on this trip a long while, and grown a lot in the process. She is already a superb pastor. She has certainly pastored me. Let her be an example for all of us of courage, and kindness, and graciousness and joyful patience. Let her give us permission to grow too, in spirituality, in holding desires lightly, in willingness to change. I think that’s what following Christ is all about.
We will not be there to see what happens with Annette as a result of this day. She’s moving clear across the country, to the frozen north, and to a different culture than Texas. But she’ll have a good parish, who will welcome her hospitably, as it should, and a bishop I’ve known for more than 20 years, from when we were priests together. He’s a good’un. Send your prayers with her, and keep sending them. She’ll be remembering us and talking to UPPER Management for us as well.
But for this evening, it’s a night to celebrate, to rejoice, both at this table, and later. Since joy is the flag that is flown in the soul when God is in residence, let’s practice joy this evening. Alleluia! Amen.