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Ordination of The Rev. Miriam G. Scott to the Sacred Order of Priests - May 8, 2021

Updated: Jul 7, 2021




Sermon for The Reverend Miriam Gabriel Scott on the Occasion of her Ordination to the Priesthood

May 8, 2021

It was spring in Houston and the year is 1980…attending Rice University Graduate School was an absolute dream come true for me…

To say that I have stars in my eyes is an understatement…I could not believe that I had the privilege of being in this particular university…

As I wind my way to the top floor of the theology department, I am sure I looked like someone who had just entered into an imaginary land

Then reality hit like a ton of bricks…I had enrolled in a Old Testament class with only one other student…The only other student was both a Hebrew scholar and a Jewish rabbi…

I had lost my mind! My assignment was to write for a whole semester on the sixth chapel of Isaiah…the call of Isaiah as a prophet to Judah…a portion of which we read today…

We were given very specific instructions on the type of references we were allowed to use and I knew from the title examples that I was sunk…

I survived but every week as I turned in the next installment to my paper I knew I would once again be the proud owner of type written pages that were covered in red marks and nasty words like…”REALLY!”

So I shall tell you right now: this call from God to Isaiah is a tough one

It is exciting, dangerous, and far better than we give it credit…”Here am I; send me! “ could only come from the mouth of one overcome by the shaking of the thresholds, the smoke filling the room with the Divine presence; not to mention the two seraphs that flew with hot coals toward Isaiah’s mouth…

But then as if this is not enough: Isaiah, the royal advisor to the king, is told that the words he receives from The Holy One will not be understood or comprehended or heeded by the people…

The people”s hearts will not be soften; they will not hear… reality sets in and poor Isaiah says those words that are tough to hear and I imagine were tough to say, “How long, O’ Lord”

And although at the time God is not specific, it is until the Babylonians send the people of Judah into exile; away from their beloved homes and vineyards and temple; until Cyrus the Persian finally allows them to return…

The Holy One is not calling Isaiah to a successful ministry…Judah is in a horrendous time in her history…Her beloved King, Uzziah has died and she had loved him as she had David

Previously her borders had been secured by Uzziah; her economy prosperous; there was a lack of foreign intervention by Assyria, Egypt, and Syria

But Uzziah first developed a leprous condition; next his government went to caretakers; then he died; and there was a death pall cast over

all of Judah…

Judah began to spiral down into that horrible condition that tempted her at all times; that temptation that seemed to call her name: apostasy

But as we know so clearly…God does not abandon God’s own…the old world which they knew is being dismantled but a new hope and new beginnings will be…in time …revealed…

If God’s call to Isaiah is a tough one and the reading a difficult one…hold on…the Gospel really gets tough…

I think perhaps we were to read just the few verses assigned and not do the back story to either of these readings, but I can’t help it…

In a subsistent society feeding 5000 men with five loaves and two fish makes the people crazy with possibility…

The conversations must have been wild…” no more waking at dawn to get the bread started”; “no more spending money on wheat for bread”, “anyone with those powers could make our lives so easy”; “haven’t I told you that we should have come to hear this prophet?”

“Let’s make him King!” “ King!” Talk about misunderstanding the words and actions of Jesus…I just love that as the story unfolds, the people chase Jesus down demanding signs and acts that would perhaps make belief possible…

Then as Jesus answers them by revealing the requirements for life; the eating and drinking of His body and blood, the peopler respond with perhaps the most poignant of words, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it”

Many, very many, turned back…

How long ,O’ Lord; How long?

So I am purposing that the lessons that were chosen for this ordination are lessons in reality… lessons in intimacy…lessons in vulnerability…

This stuff of ministry is hard! It is hard; it is wonderful; it is redeeming; it is rewarding; it is heart breaking…

When called, it is irresistibly the most challenging and rewarding work that one will ever do

I think it requires that we consider the vulnerability of God…the vulnerability of loving as only a Creator God can love…the intimacy …

In creating in love; in caring for in love; in standing with all of creation…God reaches out to God’s people to stand with them as they suffer; to call them back into covenant; to bless them; to hold them close and guild them…

It took years and three successive prophets from the school of Isaiah to see the folks from Judah come back to Jerusalem

It took death and resurrection to reveal the God who came to reveal salvation to the world

But the Jews came home; Jesus was resurrected; and we are the inheritors of the great and powerful gift of life from God our creator


Miriam, please stand:

I have loved walking this path with you. We have spent many hours together looking at life and ministry

You are so called and I pray that you will love this ministry that we call priesthood.

It may require a level of intimacy that can be at times overwhelming because in love we give our inmost…

It will require energy that can only come from the fire of the love of God that burns deeply in our belly…

It will require mercy and passion and the sharing of God’s grace with others and yourself…

It requires laughter…lots of laughter…there will be times when laughter will pull you back and remind you who you are and to what ministry you are called

God has given you unique qualities and experiences that will make your ministry your own…we are blessed to witness such a ministry…

You have a terrific place to try your wings…this parish is filled with gifted folks who will celebrate and encourage as you make this ministry uniquely your own

I pray that when you are frustrated that you will remember Isaiah as the pillars of the threshold shook and will remember Jesus as the crowds pushed to make Him King

Celebrate this life and ministry that God has given to you; ministry both to the church and with and to Cory and your children.

Hold on…this great ride and you are made for it; called to it…love beyond measure; cherish the folks God sends to you; and don’t forget to laugh…

Amen





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