Communal capes of blessing

As we prepare to join in a ministerial licensing service for Rosi Penner Kaufman this coming Sunday, May 13, I’m reminded of times I have received or led ministerial-related blessings and prayers. Here I am at my ordination service at Bethel College Mennonite Church.



And here is what I wrote to a friend recently about this occasion:

I have great memories of being in the middle of team huddles. And so I figured this was just another team huddle with fewer high fives and sweat, and without a coach or teammates yelling at me. It was uncomfortable at first to kneel down, but when I saw my family and the community come forward, I sort of surrendered to the moment. I let myself be crowded for a moment, and affirmed. It took me back years ago, to when I was a little girl standing in a circle of worshiping adults, lifting my hands up to God, hoping I could reach whatever they were reaching for.

I don’t remember most of the words shared on ordination day. I fell into that place I go to sometimes when I pray, or when I stood at the free throw line during an important basketball game—where people, sounds, distractions drop off and I’m just there, alone but somehow not alone, in an empty, but not-so-empty space. Dear friend Kara, who I didn’t even know was there (last I knew she was living in a remote Alaskan lodge), was seated on the last row of the balcony. The next day she said that from where she was seated up high, the community draped around me looked as if we were forming some kind of communal, Mennonite superhero cape.

We won’t ask Rosi to kneel for the laying on of hands this coming Sunday. We will save that for a future ordination service, which we hope will be about two years from now. Still, as we join in licensing her toward ordination on Sunday, my hope is that we might sink into a place of deep prayer. May we affirm her gifts of ministry, and may we continue to form that communal cape of support and love, looking to the greatest superhero of all, Jesus.

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