Devotional Thought for the Day:
12 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2 Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.
3 And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. Romans 12:1-3 GNT
The last question summarizes, in essence, all the others: “Are you prepared to unite yourself daily more closely with Christ, our High Priest, and to become with him a sacrificial offering for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind?”
for those of you who aren’t ordained, please read this anyways, it will and does deal with you as well!)
Over 20 years ago, I was ordained.
Since then, I have been installed as the pastor at three more churches. Each time a series of questions are asked, pertaining to what I believe, and how I will care for the people entrusted to my spiritual care. One of the more challenging questions is whether I will ever talk about what is confessed to me, revealing the sins people needed to know God would forgive. (the answer to that is never, even if threatened with jail or death)
But the question above, which my Roman Catholic brothers are asked, is one I wish would have been asked. It is one I need to ask myself each and every day, as well.
Am I prepared and willing to unite myself with Christ, this day? Am I willing to become a sacrificial offering for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind?
It is what Paul urges us to do, to be living sacrifices, and as He explains it, as chapter 8 goes on, doing what you are gifted and called to do, setting aside all semblance of pride, so that others may be served, and thereby saved.
Am I prepared to unite myself to C\hrist? Am I willing to become a sacrificial offering for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind?
I think we fear this, for fear of confusing our salvation, which we can do nothing to merit, nothing to earn, with living a life that is free form sin, from being set apart, from being holy. This is the life united to Christ.
We know the theolgoical answer to this – that we were united to Christ in our baptism, that we are joined to Him, in His death, and in His Resurrection. (Romans 6 and Colossians 2 teach so) But this is far more than an academic theological question.
It is about the stuff of life.
It is about embracing hardship, suffering, not getting the things we desire, about seeing every person we talk to as a divine appointment, as we are put there to help them encounter God (as we do encountering them!) It is about setting aside our frustration, our anger, our joy, even our sorrow for their sake.
It is what the “Missional life” and the “aspostolate” are really about.
It is what being a pastor and priest is about.
It is, as well, about what being the church, the rpiesthood of all believers is about.
So ask yourself the question, “Am I prepared…”
And know that God is with you.. preparing you to say yes, as the Spirit transforms you into the image of Christ. (2 Cor 3)
Father, in Jesus precious name, help us answer “yes” to Your call on our lives. AMEN!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 186). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Where God Puts His Name
1 Kings 8:22-30; 41-43
† In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit! †
May your ministry as people and pastors, proclaim the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to all of the broken people you come in contact with, including each other
When God Put His Name
Ted my friend, today you are going to hear some very special words… then again, you have heard them before. Sometimes with your ears, and other times, they sunk right down into your soul.
The first time your soul heard these special words, was just three years after the end of World War II. You were only three months and seven days old, and before you could even play the organ (I think), those words forever changed you, and your life. God marked you with them, He put His name on you in Baptism.
I messaged you last week, and asked you to think about how many times you’ve heard them in your life, and I could hear you laughing. Just the number of times you heard them, while sitting over on that organ bench, is beyond count.
From that bench, you heard Dr. Hendry say them, and Pastor Jerry, you heard the Reverend Vicar Dustin say them, and watched Vicar Matthew say them, and heard Dr. Stoterau say them, when Matt became a pastor, your pastor.
Each time you heard them, it was a blessing. It was a moment to remember and re-call that God made you one of His children, and the blessings of that relationship, both in this life and for eternity.
Today, when Dr. Stoterau says them over you as you are ordained, it is not for your sake, it is not to bless you. Stand up, and look around, see your friends, your church family. The reason you will hear these words is for their blessing… even as it costs you.
Adter you hear the words “I ordain you”, these are those special words, “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. Those words are for them to hear, as God places His name here, for them! When you see the excitement in their eyes, because God has marked you again with His name, when they are as excited as Patriot fans in February, it is for their sake you will endure this. They may not realize it, but those words are for them.
The Parable of Solomon’s Temple
The Old Testament reading this afternoon is a parable, an illustration for everyone here to understand what ordination is.
As Solomon prays, he reveals why God puts His name places, why He will identify certain buildings and people to have an identity that is set apart from the norm. Maybe that is why pastors are not all that normal! Seriously, you know enough of us Ted to know it is not that the person who is ordained is anything special, it the reason that God ordains us that is special…
The same reason the Temple was built, for your parish to know that God hears their prayers, and responds to their prayers.
For Your “Identified” Parish!
When someone works as a chaplain, or a social worker in the medical field, you talk of your identified clients, and your unidentified clients. It is true about ministry as well You have your identified parish, and your real parish,
Your identified parish is the people here at Good Shepherd, the members, regular attendees, young and old, brand new Christians and those who have been Christians back into the middle of the last century.
When they come to you, whether it is here, or to your home, or at C&S coffee shop, pray with them, just like people went to the temple of Solomon. As you do, assure them, what was true in Solomon’s day, is still true. He prayed,
And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
By the way, this is the hardest part of your ministry, and sometimes the most frustrating. For in helping them to hear that God forgives them, you must remind them that they need to be forgiven.
That can happen in a coffee shop, as you preach, or hear their confession. It can happen as you counsel them.
Every one of us needs to know that God desires to forgive us, to heal our brokenness, to give us hope. Every one of us, including your peers in ministry, especially us. For if God can clean us up…
That is why God is marking you with His name. So that they can know that nothing will separate them from God, including their sin, and the sin of this world. As John writes in his first epistle, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous forgiving us of sin, and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.”
Still, they will not like to hear that they are sinners. Be patient and loving and you will get past that. They realize you are here, that God has put His name on you to assure them of that forgiveness, so they could audibly hear it, then, they will rejoice.
That is why you will preach, that is what you guarantee them in baptism, and part of what they receive as they the Body and Blood of Christ. It is what they hear when you say, as a called and ordained servant, I forgive you in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. You will use His name, as He calls you to, and they will know they have been reconciled to God.
It is what they need, what God wants them to have.
It is why He marks you with His name today. To make sure they know His love and mercy!
For Your “Real” parish
Solomon’s prayer insisted that the temple was not built just for Israel. It is the same thing for you. Never think your people are only the people who find their way here on Sunday morning.
Your parish includes every person that comes to you! It includes the former students of La Contenta; the people you know about the town; anybody who knows you are a pastor. Your parish includes those who come up to and says, “Ted, can I have a few moments of your time, I need to talk.” It might be a former co-worker, it might even be one of these guys dressed funny. It might even be someone you do not know, who sees you in your collar.
God is putting His name on you for them that they too could pray, even if they do not know God by name yet! God knows their name, and He will have them contact you, so that you can encourage them to pray. Remember Solomon’s words here as well,
“In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, 42 for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, 43 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name. 1 Kings 8:41-43 (NLT)
The same Name that will mark you as one of the shepherds that He has given to His people. Not to make you famous, or special.
He is putting His name on you again, so they can know Him.
I’ve said this day, this time is a blessing for all of the people you know, and will know.
God placing His name on you is going to cost you a lot, and I am not just talking about those college loans. You already know this, that you will spend time at people’s bedsides. You will miss dinners (and Barb will miss you cooking dinner!). You will hand someone those last couple of bills you have in your pocket. You will cry with them, rejoice with them… be crushed when they refuse to repent, dance (reverently) when the prodigal comes home.
You will be here. You will be the place where God has put His name. So the believer can pray and know that God hears… and forgives. So that the unbeliever can pray, and know God hears… and know and trust in Him.
Those two things will make it all worth it.
When God puts His name on you, and makes you one of those that gets to help people realize He makes them His… I cannot explain the joy of this ministry (I can explain the pain) …but you will know it.
Blessings to you my friend, for God has made you His child by placing His name on you, and is putting His name on you again, to bless them, and so many others,
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit! AMEN!