The people of Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield, MO, joined me yesterday, the Second Sunday of Lent, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
My actual ordination date was the Feast of St. David, patron saint of Wales, March 1. On that date in 1997, Bishop David Reed of Kentucky ordained me to the priesthood at Christ Episcopal Church, Bowling Green, KY.
On my anniversary, I renewed my ordination vows at the Holy Eucharist at 9 am, which was followed by a beautiful reception in the parish hall.
I am grateful to the several parishioners who made it possible. They organized and publicized it. They set up the tables and spread the table cloths. They contributed the food and gorgeous spring flowers. They served the food and drinks and welcomed people.
As I said in my remarks in the parish hall, there have been many highs and lows over more than two decades of priesthood, but, on the whole, the former outweigh the latter.
Just the day before, I said, I started the morning watching four short films at the Moxie with a group of preschoolers from church. Afterwards, we worked on crafts in the lobby. It was fun. I love the energy of the children and helping to foster the Christian faith in them.
Then, later Saturday morning, I visited with high school students from throughout the diocese who were spending the weekend at Christ Church. They were taking part in Happening, a spiritual renewal experience.
I listened to a young woman's testimony about the importance of Christ in her life. (Later on at the closing Eucharist on Sunday afternoon, I was again moved, hearing participants share their experiences of Christ over the weekend.) It is a delight to see faith coming alive in the young.
These experiences are among the joys of being a priest, and I hold onto them. They are highs that help me endure the lows.
In his famous poem, Robert Frost writes of the "road not taken." A long time ago, I could have taken a different road--a military officer, a banker, a lawyer and politician, a journalist, a partner in the public relations firm (and I did take several of those roads for a time).
But priesthood was the road I chose ultimately, or rather, that chose me. God chose it for me and called me to walk it. I have done so now for more than two decades.
I trust that this is the road God created me to walk, and that when I reach the end of it--a long, long time from now, I pray--I will look back and say, "Thank God, I took this road. And thank God, I remained on it, for this road has led me into a life of purpose, value, and joy."