Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. -1Peter 2:5
"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord's face shine upon you… and give you peace." - Numbers 6:22-27
This Saturday at 4 p.m. our church will host two ordinations. Bishop Jim Hazelwood will preside. Eric Worringer and Robin Lutjohann have been called to local congregations necessitating a glorious afternoon of celebration and fellowship. It will be a rare moment for us to gather with the wider church.
In a service of ordination something holy happens. This is true of all kinds of services in the church: people come out baptized, communed, confirmed, married, ordained, and in the end buried. In all of them God is worshipped and counted on to bless us and guide us into a holy purpose which really amounts to the way we live and die.
Because all of its baptized members share in Jesus' ministry of love and service, the church equips and supports us for our ministries in the world. You could say that the baptism of children is really the ordination of little priests. Saint Paul wrote about what has come to be known as "the priesthood of all believers." Protestants picked up on Paul's words to speak of the direct access all Christians have to God and not just through the ministry of an ordained priest. Luther wrote that the vocations of parenting or shoemaking were as holy and as high as that of the parish priest. When I lived in the more conservative evangelical world during college, everyone had their ministries in daily life. I often wish that more of us in the Lutheran church had a deeper sense of God's calling in our daily lives as God's people.
Ordination mainly has to do with the particular ministry of word and sacrament. In the service of Ordination, the church entrusts this work to those who have accepted the church’s call and sends them into this ministry. In the Lutheran context, no one is ordained unless he or she is called to a local setting in which to do this ministry.
A fellow pastor, upon leaving his last church after a good, long stay, told his congregation that he was sent to them to bless them. He had done that well in his ministry of word and sacrament, his leadership and care for the congregation and surrounding community.
We all are here to bless and be a blessing. The formal and informal acts of blessing seem less common now. A colleague recently told me of a friend's mother who blessed all nine children every morning as they left for school. Her friend was the youngest and always last in line. Impatient, she'd try to escape, but she got a blessing whether she wanted it or not. Her mother died when she was sixteen. She's sixty now. She's almost forgotten her mother's face, but not the weight of her hand, the feel of her blessing. After all these years it brings her peace.
At his baptism, the Spirit rested on Jesus like a hand rests on your head. God blessed Jesus, saying, "You are my beloved." Jesus soaked in that like the river in which was baptized. All his life he drew on it like air for breath. Blessed like that, he could embrace a challenging life with joy and a death with hope. The power of that blessing raised him from the dead.
Not everyone gets to hear that they're worth everything to God. But that is what we pastors get to say and do so that all of us can say and do it.
God bless you, Ross