This is the Rev. Jill Leslie Williams. Over the past four years, she has become very dear to the hearts of our family.
Yesterday, she was ordained a pastor of Word and Sacrament. Below is the prayer I offered during the laying on of hands, at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
"Lord, today we come to you with hearts that are very full. Full of praise and thanksgiving, full of hope and joy, hearts warmed by our friendship with this, your servant, Jill. Many of us here have known what it is to be loved by her, and our lives are so much richer for it. God, we give you thanks for the great gift of our dear friend Jill; hers is a life truly marked by the joy of the Lord.
And now, on this afternoon, we join together in a mystery. With countless legions of the faithful, crossing every generation, hand to shoulder in an unbroken line, You have lead us, and You lead Jill to this ordination moment. We humbly count ourselves among this procession of Believers, eager to lay our hands on upon our friend, and ask your blessing and commission. It is You, Lord that has called Jill to this place…..and we would,….. all of us, seek to know and find the face of Jesus in our time.
Father, we pray your blessing now, on Jill. Your blessing……... We use these words like we might understand what they mean, and yet we often struggle to work out our own understanding of You and your Kingdom. But these things we do know. We know you are infinitely Good, and so, we pray your goodness might shower down on Jill, in the days, months, and years ahead. We know You bring us into Christian community, and so, we pray for deep, meaningful, genuine community to surround her as she begins her journey as a pastor. Lord, we need you. We know you provide deep peace and rest for our souls. And so, in the midst of busy days, and the middle of time spent ministering to the needs of others, we pray that You might afford Jill with deep peace in the form of your presence and peace. Daily. Abiding. Ever present. Be always beside our dear friend Jill, oh Lord.
We know you are a God of mercy. We pray you would continue to expand and deepen Jill’s great gifts for compassion and mercy. Jesus, show yourself through the caring and love of Jill’s pastoral and personal life, so that all those who meet her might sense something truly remarkable, as so many of us have. Something deep and rich. Something of the Risen Christ.
Lord, you are a God of joy. Your Creation shouts at us of your joy, if we will but listen! You have created Jill’s soul with an unmistakable imprint of your Joy. Abundant. Overflowing. We know that to laugh with Jill is to really laugh! And so, oh God, would you now, and each day of her life……. continue to fill Jill with a great, immense, immeasurable joy.
Oh Christ, you are our Hope. You are our Salvation. You are all we have to offer an often dark, and wandering, and wondering world. You are light, You are home, You are hope! Lord Jesus, will you please shower upon Jill, your servant, great light to see the way, abundant hope to serve others, and fill her with a depth of grace that might know that You, Oh God, are our ultimate place called…… Home.
And so, now with great joy, we send Jill forth, with hearts full, and eyes set upon Christ. And will You send each of us,… into Your world,… to proclaim Your Kingdom come, now!
And with this, ALL of God’s people said together…………Amen!"