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Realizing the Call from Grace

Almost five and a half years ago, I sat with my priest after a morning eucharist to share where I was in discernment and the call I had received the week prior.  Not just any call.  The Call.  When God came calling as I walked one of my four-legged clients.  In the most odd way and the strangest of all places, the Spirit welled up in me and pushed words out my own mouth so I could say them and hear them: "God, are you calling me to be a priest in your Church?"  As I write this, I once feel again that sense of warmth and peace that enveloped me that day, and any day when I stop to remember.

Today is another day to remember.  We went to our home parish for the July 4th eucharist.  Independence Day.  The day we away from Grace with grace.  The parish chose to give me a stole as I prepare for parish ministry in a new place, in a new way.  The rector called me and another, a fellow Grace Church-er, schoolmate, and deacon, forward to receive our stoles.  I purposefully asked for an All Seasons stole: I have a number of green stoles (the color most often worn throughout the church year) and didn't need another.  The All-Seasons will remind me more of Grace.  I served on the Altar Guild for 25+ years, with 6-month stints as the guild president during Christmas and Easter; All Seasons colors adorn the High Altar a lot and almost always at the Lady Altar.  It is a beautiful pattern and I will kiss it often and wear it proudly always.

So today is my 'away day' from Grace.  It may well be my last eucharist there before I begin ministry as a newly ordained deacon at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill (ICOH) in Alexandria, VA.  I am so grateful to the Grace Church community.  I took me in, loved me, supported me, challenged me, and lifted me up for ministry.  And today, as I take my leave of Grace and move forward, I come also to claim the faithful trust - Heart Of My Heart - from them.  HOMH has been worshipping at Grace since I was granted postulancy by the Bishop and officially 'left' the parish to 'belong to the Bishop.'  Popping up my tent pegs to move my tent of meeting from Grace to VTS, St. George's, St. Mark's, and now ICOH has been a process, much like all of this has been part of 'the process.'  But today, I told HOMH (and others), I leave you and I'm taking her with me.  She may not be ready to go yet, but I'm ready for us to be back together as church.

So stole in hand, and Grace in my heart, mind, body and soul, I depart. (I found it funny that one of my former Grace friends who has been an advocate in the call to ICOH was in church today).  My priest colleague Bob+ would refer to that as a "God-incident."  It is, and that is not lost on me.  Grace will be there to visit, but God has called me forth from Grace to serve in a new and wonderful way.  I cannot wait to get started!