Yesterday a number of us clergy gathered with one of our bishops and reaffirmed our ordination vows. We do this every Tuesday before Easter, and after more than a quarter century as a priest, it has not lost its significance. Maybe the reason is because vows are not just promises, and they’re not just promises to God. There is always a story behind a vow. There is the story of a romance and a mutual commitment behind marriage vows. There is the story of history, campaigns and promises behind the vows of a public servant. There is the story of an emerging vocation and years of schooling before a doctor takes the Hippocratic Oath. And there is the story of a discovered vocation, its validation in community, study and preparation, and ceremony behind the vows of a clergy person.
My story started when I was 8, when I committed myself to the Christian path. It took turns during High School, a major one being in my Senior year when I committed myself to full-time Christian service. It turned again in my 20’s when I discovered the Episcopal Church and almost immediately felt like I had come home. Very quickly, the possibility of ordained service was put before me, and I remember like it was yesterday when I realized that if I were faithful on the path, it would become a reality. Then on those days in May of 1990 and November of 1991 when I was ordained deacon and then priest, and especially at my priestly ordination, the sense of divine fire descending upon me so burned into my soul that I can never forget it.
So, when I stand before the bishop and say, “I do,” to the questions of reaffirmation, the whole story comes flooding back, and I know why I am a priest.