The dry definition of ordination is “the conferring of holy orders on someone.” This of course does not really get to the very essence of the idea. I was in a meeting of ministers in Alpena the other day, and since I was so recently ordained (22 April), the subject of ordination came up. I mentioned how going through the ceremony I felt like I had moved from one state of being to another.
It was suggested that this was kind of like marriage. And I think this is absolutely true. Ordination puts pastors in a relational state with congregations, the church and, of course, God. At the service I took nine vows. (That is a lot of I dos and I wills.) The eighth of these was, “Will you pray for and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.” This one brought home to me the responsibility inherent in being a pastor. It is a call to service to others. It is a call to look out for the well-being of others. It is a call to help others perceive their connection with God and with each other. It is a call to do all this to the best of our ability, putting to use the best qualities within us.
But, you know, in the Presbyterian Book of Order, this is a vow that deacons and elders take as well. In fact, it is really a responsibility we all have as Christians, but we do not often think about that as we move through this life. We concentrate on our own goals, our own desires and forget that, as Christians, we live a life of service to one another, to the community, to the world, and, above all, our Triune God.