About five years ago Lisa asked me if I would preach for her ordination when the time came. Since then I have accumulated a thick file folder of sermon outlines as each affirmative “ready to receive a call” vote started my preparation for a sermon only to have it thwarted by another long and winding court process.
An idea for the sermon I had hoped to be preaching in a month or so comes from an article by Eugene Peterson called “Twenty-Three Years… Persistently.” The prophet Jeremiah says “for twenty -three years… the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened” (Jer. 25:3). Peterson says “for twenty three years Jeremiah got up every morning and listened to God’s word. For twenty three years Jeremiah got up every morning and spoke God’s word to the people. And for twenty three years the people heard nothing.” Peterson then says that the key to this life is the word morning – a new day that gives the opportunity for surprise and creativity and God’s faithfulness.
Peterson concludes his article “the mark of a certain kind of genius is the ability and energy to keep returning to the same task relentlessly, imaginatively, curiously, for a lifetime… The same thing over and over, and yet it is never the same thing for each venture is resplendent with dazzling creativity.” Is this not Lisa to the core? Look at what she has done with her life as she has persistently listened for the word of God and spoken it regardless of the outcome. And look at the young adults who have been drawn into the church by this creativity in spite of church polity.
But perhaps it is for the recent PJC decision that I have been preparing rather than Lisa’s ordination sermon; Lisa learned this lesson long ago. This word is for me as I grapple with my deep yearning for justice for Lisa in the midst of the message that God is in control no matter how the people respond. May it sustain us in the coming year as we persistently wait for the church to catch up with God’s calling.
- Mardee Rightmyer
TAMFS Board Member
(and dear friend of Lisa’s)