September 17, 2017 –
Greetings to The Right Bishop Munib Younan, The Bishop-Elect Ibrahim Azar, The Propst Wolfgang Schmidt, and esteemed Reverends, Deacons, and the Good People of God. Thank you for your presence.
In 2012, my father, who had been hospitalized with heart disease, gave me a pair of practical, comfortable, red, suede-leather shoes. He said that he wanted me to have those shoes so that I could take care of my feet and continue serving others the way I had cared for him.
Three months later my father died and I entered training for the diaconate, to become a deaconess, one who serves others as Christ serves us.
What I didn’t realize at the time is how many people would come into my life to serve me and to make the prophecy of my dying father a reality.
The mission of the church is to follow and become like Christ, one who called us to serve the poor, widowed, and orphaned. The call of a deacon is to remind or draw the church into its greatest mission of service in love.
But what I learned along my formation process as a deacon is that the whole church of God would be commissioned to teach me, to lead me, to guide me, to comfort me, and to be a witness of God’s mission.
And for that, I am thankful, especially to:
The Lutheran Deaconess Association and Deaconesses Lisa, Ann Marie, Valerie, Susan, and Barbara for their community and acts of Phoebe love,
Columbia Theological Presbyterian Seminary for its scholarly preparation,
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in American’s Southeastern Synod for its structure,
The countless men, women and children in congregations, shelters, and jails who allowed me to “practice” ministry with them,
My husband, children and mother who allowed me to be absent, trusting that God was calling me elsewhere,
The examples of Diakonia from my family who work tirelessly in their traditions of the Baptist and Catholic Church to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, (Aunt Claudia and Uncle Wayne)
ELCA Global Missions and my colleagues, The Revs. Smiths, The Revs. Grangaards, Retired Bishop Halmarson, and the team in Chicago for recognizing my gifts,
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land congregations, pastors and colleagues for their trademark hospitality,
The Right Rev. Bishop Munib Younan for his mentorship in what it means to be a servant-leader, showing me by example that service (missions) is never done in isolation but always in communion.
Brothers and Sisters,
I thank you all, including those who are not present, and the saints who have departed and those who have yet to come, for your faithful participation with God in shaping me for this commitment to be a servant of the Lord and his people.
With God’s help,
I will continue to serve this community in this call as Communications Director of The ELCJHL and any other ways that I can serve, knowing that I cannot do it without the mutual diaconal spirit of each of you.
Shukkran شكرا Thank you