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.

Energy, Intelligence, Imagination, Love!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.

This article has 4 comments

  1. Sharon Lessard

    Your post is absolutely something everyone should read. The last paragraph needs to be iterated and reiterated often, because we somehow forget its importance in day-to-day living.

    • William Rayment

      Thanks, Sharon, you are very kind. I believe that we were created in God’s image to be in relation with God and with God’s creation, including the rest of humanity. This relationship is one of mutual caring. It is in essence our reason for being!

  2. Dad

    Bill, I feel this promise during ordination is a most solemn promise to yourself and to God that you will give of yourself to the utmost to help others. To the utmost means, you will give 100 percent, which leaves no room for wavering. This is a dedication of love to those less fortunate, especially in a spiritual way. Of course it is necessary to be giving as Jesus mentions the poor and hungry of all time. I must say though, this promise of ordination is the most serious promise and must be kept.

    • William Rayment

      Thanks, Dad. I think when we take vows of any sort, it is a serious business. Often the vows are life changing, and not only for the person taking the vow.