“We ask God to help us!”

Deacon Katie Rivers (St. Mark’s, Asheville) attended one of the Chrism Masses hosted by the synod for rostered ministers prior to the Lenten season; she shares her story.

On Tuesday, February 25, Facebook reminded me of my commissioning service as a Deaconess in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). A picture popped up of me in my awful navy blue uniform, my mother with her eyes filled with tears of joy, and a proud look on my father’s face in that Minnesota church. It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet, some days like yesterday.

Even with all the good leaving the LCMS has done for my ministry and faith, there are days when I still grieve the familiarity of the church in which I was raised, educated, and served. I grieve how my leaving the LCMS strained family relationships and severed ties with whole communities of people who saw my decision as an abomination. I grieve the division and animosity between the different denominations in God’s Church.

And yet.

And yet, that same day in Morganton I attended the Chrism Mass offered for NC Synod rostered ministers by synod staff. I had the opportunity to renew my vows to serve God and God’s Church in a denomination that embraces the ministry of women. I was reminded that my work is not in vain, and that I am not alone in my labor.

However, when I heard the deacons respond “I do and ask God to help me” during the renewal of vows, a familiar feeling crept into my stomach from my days in the LCMS. All women. All women not serving as pastors.

And then the Spirit spoke through my sisters in ministry, pastors called to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. “I do and I ask God to help me” they responded in harmony with their colleges of other genders. And I was reminded–I am a Deacon not because it is the only rostered role that I can serve in as a woman, but because God has called me to do this holy and important work of Word and Service.

Thank God for the witness and ministry of women in the ELCA. I look forward to the next 50 years in our church body as we continue to learn how to embrace women in leadership, how to utilize and appreciate the ministry of deacons, and be a church where all are welcome and belong. I have work to do. We have work to do. But together, “we will and ask God to help us.”

Others Chrism Mass attendees share their comments:

Pastor Sean Barrett (St. Peter’s, Salisbury)
Lent is always a wild ride, no matter how hard I work to schedule ahead. Chrism Mass helped me see that the wild ride is worth it and refocused me on God’s grace and power, especially during this season.

Pastor Josh Tucker (Amazing Grace, Waxhaw NC & Crossroads, Indian Land, SC)
The Chrism Mass worship was especially meaningful as those gathered were reminded of God’s call for us to serve and refreshed and renewed in that calling. As was shared in Bishop Smith’s sermon, ministry can be a lonely and unrewarding place so to hear those words of healing and then receive the chrism as a tangible way to share healing with others was a God moment for me.