Early on in conversations about my upcoming ordination, my wife accidentally referred to the day as my "coronation." That immediately led to images of the day turning into a musical affair, full of ice queens and chocolate fondue. This exciting day is only a few weeks away for me, which raises the question for a whole lot of people... what is ordination anyways?
On December 12 & 13, what is going to take place that makes me officially a pastor?
Where Does Ordination Come from?
Throughout the Scriptures, we can see the appointing of specific men to lead God's people. In Titus 1:5, Paul encourages Timothy to "appoint elders [pastors] in every town."
In the book of Acts, Barnabus and Saul are set apart to do missionary work:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. - Acts 13:2-3
In Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy by writing:
"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress." - 1 Timothy 4:13-15
These practices take place in the early church and in other places throughout the Scriptures; we see God appointing pastors to lead his people. This is often specifically described with the "laying on of hands." In ordination, often through the laying on of hands, a man is publicly recognized as being called to pastor God's people.
How did I become a pastor?
I never imagined that I would be a pastor.
My fifth-grade teacher told me I'd make a good one, but I was much more interested in sports at the time. But something happened because of the people at Faith Lutheran Church who invested in me.
I had two incredible confirmation leaders in 8th grade that made me look forward to confirmation small group. I had incredible leaders as a high school student and opportunities to go on mission trips that completely changed the way I understood the importance of my faith. I was a part of a high school ministry that made me want to do the same thing for other students. And as a volunteer and intern, our Executive Pastor took the time to meet with me every single week and teach me what it meant to minister in a church and to be a good husband and dad while doing it.
Because of all of that I eventually ended up doing middle school ministry at Faith. And I love it. Middle school ministry was always the dream job for me; as I cleaned bathrooms week after week, I dreamed of serving students at Faith.
And then about three years ago, Joe told me that I should think about becoming a Pastor.
And my wife and my family agreed and our congregation agreed. I knew that there were things about pastoring that I'd like - I had no doubt that I'd love preaching and adults are way easier to keep interested than teenagers anyways. And I knew that I'd love to build relationships and care for people individually. Beyond that I still am not sure where this all will lead, but I do know I get to Pastor people in a church that is filled with people who have ministered to me and shaped the faith I have.
Back to the Ordination Thing...
Ordination is the moment where we stop and we all affirm that this isn't just where I'm sensing that God is leading me, and the church recognizes me as their pastor. It's this crazy moment that as a congregation, we affirm that for some reason people want to entrust me with telling them over and over again, whether in preaching or in conversations, that their sins are forgiven. It's the congregation affirming that what I've sensed God doing is what they agree that he is doing, leading me to Pastor this congregation. It's the broader Christian church, specifically as a pastor in the LCMS, recognizing that I've studied, I've trained, and am a pastor in the Lutheran Church, a tradition with some of the best Law-Gospel theologians.
One Lutheran theologian described ordination by saying, "To ordain does not mean to consecrate. Accordingly, if we know of a godly man, we choose him and, on the strength of the Word which is ours, we give him authority to preach the Word and administer the sacraments. This is what it means to ordain."
I'm not being consecrated. And I'm not receiving a more sacred calling than that of the stay-at-home mom or the engineer. But I am officially, in ordination, being recognized as someone who has a unique calling - a calling to preach and to shepherd. A calling to make sure people are being given what they need most.
And for that I couldn't be more excited.
You might even say, "I don't know if I'm elated or gassy, but I'm somewhere in that zone."
If you're around, I hope you can join us for services on December 12 and 13 as I officially get pastor-ized. As someone whose life, faith, and family have all been shaped by the ministry of Faith, it is unreal and humbling that in a few weeks I'll officially be a pastor at the same church that has been so influential in my life.