The Ordination of the Omelet King
My youngest son calls me the Omelet King. I am good. Real good. I have made more than my fair share of omelets in my day. My student job at Southern Illinois University was manning the breakfast grill at the Marketplace restaurant in the Student Center. Omelets were big sellers, and I cooked ’em up. I had regular customers who told me that they only ordered omelets if I was cooking that day, because they thought I made ’em better than the other guy. Now my kids love it when I make omelets.
“Keep a low profile and fly under the radar, at least until you’re ordained.” That was the advice of a good friend and personal mentor. He repeated it to me over and over. It was good advice.
I have been known to ignore good advice before. And without doubt, I will again.
I started this blog as sort of a shared personal journal to document my journey through the ordination process and beyond. Somehow I failed to keep a low profile and fly under the radar. I developed a solid readership. By blog has caught the attention of laypersons, Bishops, other bloggers and the Conference office. All the while I’ve been very transparent about my frustrations and emotions. My emotionalism and transparency, as some have pointed out, are gifts that can be incredibly helpful in building relationships but can also put me in a vulnerable place.
So I had to face a harsh reality. I was a vulnerable man who was not under the radar. Not even close.
My honesty made me vulnerable. I have hit the “publish” button and literally quivered and shaken. I have voiced reasonable doubts about my ordain-ability given the depth of critique I’ve leveled at the Board of Ordained Ministry. Readers have shared in my process of moving from angry criticism to constructive ideas.
And last night Bishop Gregory V. Palmer placed his hands on my head as I knelt before the body of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and said “Lord, pour upon Robert William Deuel the Holy Spirit for the office and work of an elder, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Then he presented me with a Bible, an ordination certificate, and placed a red stole around my neck.
And I wept.
And then, in partnership with all my friends (and over these past three years we became very close friends) who were ordained as well, I served Holy Communion. Undoubtedly I served some of those who voted to deny my appeal to waive the CPE requirement. I no doubt served some who have taken my critiques personally. I almost certainly served some who have labeled me a troublemaker, a boat rocker, a thorn in the flesh. I know that I served some who regarded my critiques as brave. And all of them welcomed me heartily as a brother in the order and a brother in Christ.
I received grace in a mighty way. And I am grateful beyond words.
I know it’s a cliché but I learned the hard way a lesson I should have known from the start: “If you’re gonna make an omelet, you’ve got to break a few eggs.” Tonight I’m not sure if I have caused a bunch of trouble or if I have proposed good solutions, or perhaps a little of both. I do know that this blog has made me more of a high-profile person than I had ever intended, and it has allowed me to become part of a conversation that I previously would have not been invited to.
I’ve made an Ordination omelet. I have worked out my own ordination with tremendous fear and trembling. All that I have done has brought me to this place.