What exactly does it mean to be ordained? It doesn’t really mean that one is called to follow Jesus. That calling comes to every Christian through the sacrament of baptism. To be a Christian is to be called to serve.
On Saturday, October 15th, at 2:00 pm, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church will host the ordination of Anne Williams who has been called to serve and sent by the Spirit to serve the people of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Vinton, Iowa. Thanks be to God!
Anne served as a lay person working with the young people of the congregation for about fifteen years. She began to move toward ordination as a student at Wartburg Seminary and a candidate in the Southeastern Iowa Synod. Anne served her internship in Miles, Texas. Now she will be “rostered” as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, a Pastor, in the ELCA.
What exactly does it mean to be ordained? It doesn’t really mean that one is called to follow Jesus. That calling comes to every Christian through the sacrament of baptism. To be a Christian is to be called to serve. Anne was called to follow Jesus and serve the church throughout her life and through her ministry in the church.
To be ordained is an expression of this baptismal call with a unique twist. To be ordained as a pastor is to be sent. The Greek word Apostolos (from which we derive “apostle”) simply means one who is sent. In ordination, the Church affirms that Anne is trained, tested, and ready to serve. In addition, the Church now sends her to Vinton, Iowa, to lead and love the people in that place. Anne is being sent, to carry on the apostolic ministry of the Church wherever she is sent. She will serve a congregation, just as I serve Holy Trinity, but she will always be a pastor of the whole Church as expressed in and through the ELCA.
Ordination is a recognition of particular gifts for particular work. As it says in the ordination service, “We praise you (Lord) that, having ascended into heaven, Christ pours out his gifts abundantly on the church, making some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, to equip your people for their work of ministry for building up the body of Christ.” Anne is being sent to an outpost of the Church in mission to equip the people and build up the body.
As Anne is ordained, she will make promises to a God who keeps promises. The bishop will ask her: “Before almighty God, to whom you must give account, and in the presence of this assembly, I ask: Will you assume this office, believing that the church’s call is God’s call to the ministry of word and sacrament?” The church’s call is, in fact, God’s call, God’s sending to love and lead God’s people.
I hope that you will join Bishop Current, me (I am deeply honored to preach for the occasion) and the assembly that gathers on the 16th. If you have not been to an ordination, please come and witness God sending yet another servant in the long line of servants who have been set aside, not because they are special, but because they are willing to be sent.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor