A September to Remember

posted Sep 8, 2018, 7:25 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you in the name of God our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and our Advocate the Holy Spirit!

On September 8, 2013 I was ordained as Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America.

On September 30, 2013 I was divorced and officially free from what I will graciously call a very unhealthy marriage.

Two life changing events in one month. Two life-giving events in one month.

I am still in awe of God calling me to ministry. I remain grateful that God’s presence and love never left me, even when I had walked away from God. Even though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I look back and can see God’s guiding hand, transforming my sorrow and pain to a place of joy. I am thankful for all I have learned, including how to do ministry and how not to do ministry. I think of all the people God has put along my path to encourage and challenge me, and I see the face of Christ in each one. And now, five years later, I am filled with peace and gratitude for God leading me to MRC.

I still get emotional when I re-read my vows, especially the part that says, Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I pledge my life to preach and teach the good news of salvation in Christ, to build up and equip the church for mission in the world, to free the enslaved, to relieve the oppressed, to comfort the afflicted, and to walk humbly with God. 

To express my thankfulness for God’s faithfulness, and to remind myself of my pledge to God, each year I watch a certain musical portion of my ordination. It’s a song written and composed by my friend Dionne McClain-Freeney that she sang at my ordination. I have always understood this as my love song to God as I took my vows. It’s called “Imperfect Me.”

Take me as I am, with all my faults, and all my scars from battle. I am who I am, and I am real, the one who loves you still. Take me as I am, broken but here, with all I have, I give you. All that I can give, and nothing less; I would give more, if I could. 

My heart is yours; my soul as well. My flesh, my blood, I give you. No sacrifice, too great to give. You have my vow; I am here. 

Take me as I am, imperfect me. Imperfect love is given. I stand strong with you. I’m here right now, my hand I give to you. 

My heart is yours, my soul as well. My flesh, my blood, I give you. No sacrifice, too great to give. You have my vow; I am here.

I am here. Imperfect me.

After I was ordained and divorced, I wanted to mark these occasions with something. I wanted to buy myself a ring, but I never got around to it. Yesterday, though, as I was walking around Sears waiting for my car to be serviced, I stopped by the jewelry counter. They were having a big sale on gemstones. 

It was time to buy that ring. 

It wasn’t expensive; the setting is a bit crooked; it’s not from a fancy jeweler. The ring is imperfect, just like me, but it’s my favorite gemstone -- an emerald -- and what I chose to symbolize two events that gave me hope. It’s what I wanted to remind me of God’s amazing grace for me; indeed, for all of us.

Beloved, how have you seen God’s continuing presence in your life? What transformations have you experienced because of God’s providence and guiding hand? Where in your life has God restored and renewed your sorrow to a place of hope? Thanks be to God that God takes us as we are, just as we are, loves us, and molds us into a more holy and human shape. 

In gratitude for the privilege of being your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish