"So roll up your sleeves, Put your mind in gear, Be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives." I Peter 1: 13-16 (The Message)
At the 2017 Service of Ordination and Commissioning, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar told the new clergy that being in ministry means being willing to “roll up your sleeves.”
The Conference commissioned six and ordained two clergy on Friday evening, June 16, 2017.
"You have traveled a long and arduous journey to arrive at this moment," Bishop Devadhar said. "I am honored and privileged to be your ordaining bishop on behalf of the whole Church and the New England Annual Conference. Take a deep sigh of gladness, joy, and humility as you kneel at the altar to be ordained. Breathe in deeply the wonder and celebration."
The bishop then recounted a pivotal moment in his early life when the family cow, about to give birth, began to have trouble in labor. The cow provided much-needed nourishment to his family and others. The vet was called and arrived quickly despite being out at an event – without taking the time to change from his dress clothes.
“Yet, he rolled up his sleeves, knelt down beside our cow, and centered everything within him on this birth, saving the life of our cow and her calf,” the bishop said. “More than half a century later, I am still astonished by this doctor and his vocational spirit and commitment.”
The bishop commended the veterinarian’s passion and for responding as if this birth was the most critical work he’d ever done.
Read the full text of the bishop's sermon
“Christian ministry, whether by laity or clergy, is all about rolling up our sleeves,” the bishop said. “Though I may be challenged on this one, let me say this, my dear ordinands and commissioners, we become pastors and deacons par excellence, not by our theological gymnastics from the pulpit as either liberal or conservative pastors or deacons, and not because of our gender or the color of our skin, but through our willingness to roll up our sleeves.”
Rolling up their sleeves is critical, Bishop Devadhar said, but more will be required of them.
“We also need to ‘put our minds into gear.’ We cannot journey on God’s highway for the transformation of the world if we are of a neutral or closed mind,” the bishop said. “We need to shift gears constantly. Let me hasten to say ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.’ (Hebrews 13:8). The word of God never changes. However, we need to interpret the word of God afresh for each and every generation and circumstance.”
The bishop talked about his interest in the coming generations when he talked about his enjoyment of reading commencement addresses from colleges and universities around the country.
He shared this from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in his speech at Harvard this year:
“The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose. Purpose is that sense that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for,” Zuckerberg said. “Purpose is what creates true happiness …”
Bishop Devadhar asked the newly ordained and commissioned clergy to envision their ministries as complete, and to think about what would define success.
“Our dear commissioners and ordinands, your ministry will not be remembered for the size of your salary package or whether you lived in an air-conditioned parsonage, but for the prophetic leadership you provided that empowered the laity of your churches to serve others,” he said. “You will be remembered because you were the pastor under whose leadership the people of God became agents of change in the communities you served.”
About the sculpture:
At the Bishop's Retreat with Ordinands and Commissionees the idea was born for these folded visual representations of the vital conversations we have the responsibility to hold (and hold up). The charged and challenging conversations around race can get a bit tangled and twisted and double back on itself but within these there is also openness, movement, space for the spirit, and a beauty in its connection. The conversation tangles overhead remind us that the vital work of being in relationships with one another comes from God. The hands lifting these conversations are a way of celebrating our difference, acknowledging our oppressive history, and committing ourselves to creating a more just future. It is only in community, working together in trust, that such conversations can inspire us to change.
Listen to the opening of the service
recorded by Board of Ordained Ministry Co-Chairs Charlotte Pridgen-Randolph and Mark Demers.
Ordained and Commissioned as
Preston Lee Fuller
Cheryl L. Meachen