One of the joys of belonging to a congregation that’s just 20 years old is that the history is recent, and there are a lot of firsts to be part of.
On May 27th of this year, there were a lot of firsts: I was co-ordained by the First Universalist Church of Southold, where I was serving and who has ordained dozens in their 187 year history…. and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, making this their first ordination. This was, of course, my first (and only) time being ordained. And I am the first person in my ancestry in many, many generations – perhaps since the early 1600s – to be ordained. For many friends, it was the first time they’d participated in an ordination. In attendance (and also participating) were not only their current minister (the resultant call of Saratoga’s first ministerial search) but also their first, founding minister. And while he was not in attendance, Saratoga’s first interim minister, Thomas Mikelson, was present through his words, written for this, the first hymn we sang that day.
A day of firsts.
And I’m glad this hymn is a part of that memory and my history; it’s one of my favorites, far surpassing Rank by Rank Again We Stand (which we’ll get to in September) as the perfect hymn to use in rituals like ordinations and installations. Mikelson draws us all in to the wide net of ministry, recognizing that we are all called.
Wake, now, my senses, and hear the earth call;
feel the deep power of being in all;
keep, with the web of creation your vow,
giving, receiving as love shows us how.
Wake, now, my reason, reach out to the new;
join with each pilgrim who quests for the true;
honor the beauty and wisdom of time;
suffer thy limit, and praise the sublime.
Wake, now, compassion, give heed to the cry;
voices of suffering fill the wide sky;
take as your neighbor both stranger and friend,
praying and striving their hardship to end.
Wake, now, my conscience, with justice thy guide;
join with all people whose rights are denied;
take not for granted a privileged place;
God’s love embraces the whole human race.
Wake, now, my vision of ministry clear;
brighten my pathway with radiance here;
mingle my calling with all who will share;
work toward a planet transformed by our care.
Set to the Irish dance that is Slane, it reminds us that all that we are called to is a dance with the Mystery – that as much gravitas as our call requires, it also requires us to enter that call with a light and loving heart.
I honestly have not one bad thing to say about this hymn – as long as it’s not played as a dirge, of course.
And it will always live on in my memory as the first hymn of my ordination. May it also always live on as a reminder of my call.
From my ordination – the amazing Rev. Kimberly Quinn Johnson leading the processional, singing this hymn.
Because I married another minister, we also sang this at our wedding (in a UU Church, of course). And at our installation. (Another church only 20 years old — we were the first ministers installed there, though we had already been ordained elsewhere.) And on the tenth anniversary of my ordination, I preached a sermon titled “Brighten My Pathway With Radiance” and gave the congregation a wall hanging which I had commissioned to match the stained glass window under which it hung. It was, of course, a pathway winding between hills and brightened with radiance.
Yup, I love this one, too!
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