a journal of my journey

Ordination thought

I was searching the internet for some ideas for my installation and ran across a newsletter for the now Rev. Isaac Chung’s new church. I was intrigued by what his pastor wrote on ordination from a Reformed perspective.

Ordination holds opposites in tension.  It sets individuals apart for a particular purpose, but calls them to carry out ministry in community. For pastors in particular, ordination rises “from below” – an act of  the whole church, carried out by the presbytery, in order to choose and propose the candidate – and “from above” – a gift of  God bestowing both skills for pastoral ministry and a recognition of dependency upon the Holy Spirit for their use.  It is both the culmination and the beginning of  the call to ministry.  While God first calls individuals to a life of  service, the church then confirms this inner calling, through Committees on Preparation for Ministry, Seminary, and even Pastoral Nominating Committees.  Ordination, then, serves as the culmination of  that initial call, with installation marking the beginning of  service in the calling community. 

 The central act of  ordination is prayer and the laying on of  hands.  It has been said that in this act, the candidate is overwhelmed by two conflicting feelings – a strange burden and a strong support.  In those hands the weight of  the church’s faith, the witness of  the saints, presses down.  Yet in those same hands, the candidate is upheld, given that which he or she does not have through education or natural inclination.  It is truly a mystical event.  

Finally, the pastor is a leader, but this role only arises because of  those whom he or she leads. Martin Luther said that “there is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests… except for the sake of  office and work, but not for the sake of  status.”  If  it were not for the laity, there would be no need of  pastors, and the work of  the church would collapse before it began.  We are all part of Christ’s work, and are called as such.  As Luther said, “we are all priests, as many of  us are Christians.” The question, then, is not “Am I called to ministry?” but rather, “To which ministry am I called?”  In the Reformed tradition, pastors are called to preach to the congregation, in the name of Christ, so that the congregation may preach to the world in the name of  Christ.  

 

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One response

  1. Brian Symonds

    Very thoughtful…I am intrigued to hear more and what your thoughts are on this.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:32 pm

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