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Martha’s Ordination

by Lionel E. Deimel


In the winter of our troubles,

Martha kneels to be a priest;

In the waning days of Advent,

Comes her Eucharistic feast.


Such a time for ordination—

When the Church herself is rent

By divisions over Scripture,

Over what God means and meant!


Is our faith a blessing given

That, unchanged, we must embrace,

Or a call to follow Jesus

At this time and in this place?


She’ll be priested by a bishop

Who does not approve her creed;

Yet, he’ll join in celebration

That, God willing, will proceed.


What will be this new priest’s mission?

Will she walk into the fray,

Or become a saintly presence

Who will comfort, heal, and pray?


Thus, St. Paul’s sends forth our Martha

To become what she will be,

As she binds to her the strong Name

Of the blessed Trinity.


Episcopal Church shield          Episcopal Church shield          Episcopal Church shield


Having written a poem for James McCaskill’s ordination at my church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, I felt the need to do the same for the latest ordination, that of Martha Eilertsen. That first poem was a haiku called “Ordination.” This poem is a more extended effort, much influenced by the current conflict in the Episcopal Church ostensibly over homosexuality, but, in reality, more about the nature of the church and the interpretation of Scripture. Martha will be ordained by The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, a pivotal figure in the current conservative revolt within the Episcopal Church. Martha is considerably more liberal than our bishop, but I am confident that everyone will behave with Episcopal decorum at tomorrow night¹s ordination, and the event will be the joyous occasion that ordinations are meant to be.

— LED, 12/21/2003

Update, 9/12/92014. I received word today that Martha died of cholangiocarcinoma yesterday at the age of 52 in Spokane, Washington. Her career as a priest was all too short.

Martha Eilertsen, July 2014
Courtesy of Jacqui Och

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