Ordination, not graduation or coronation
Tonight at 6:15 p.m. we will host a worship service as Bishop Henry Louttit, some of my fellow priests and myself will participate in ordaining Jay Weldon to the priesthood. The Rev. Don Waring will be the preacher. Don is the 14th rector of Grace Church on Broadway in New York City, a church known, among other things, for its preaching. Jay is serving there now as he attends General Seminary for a one year masters program. Debbie and Carol and the King of Peace Ensemble have worked hard on the music. I know it will be a wonderful service you will not want to miss.
But as I think of how to set what will take place this evening, I recall some earlier words of mine. Last August, I had an opportunity to pray and think through what I feel about ordination as I prepared to preach a sermon for Loren Hague's ordination to the priesthood. In that sermon I said some things I want to repeat here, but think "Jay" when you read "Loren."
Now when we get the idea of ordination wrong, it comes across more like a graduation at best or a coronation at worst. But despite all appearances, this night is not about Loren Hague. This is not a night to celebrate Loren, to extol her virtues, or whatever else we might do if we get off track thinking about Loren. This night is about The Good Shepherd who is very concerned for his flock. Jesus looks out and he sees the trouble within the flock and sees many who are not yet in the flock. And in response to the needs of the world and the needs of the church, the Holy Trinity forms different people with various gifts so that the whole flock may be nourished and cared for.The full text of that earlier sermon is online here: A Good Shepherd.
This night is not about Loren alone. What we do tonight began not with the Holy Spirit speaking to Loren’s heart. What we do tonight began with the needs of the world and the needs of the church so that this night is just part of a much larger plan for reaching a lost and hurting world that is the work of every person present.
In response to the needs of a lost and hurting world, God gave Jay Weldon gifts for the ministry of the priesthood. Tonight, we give thanks for that call and those gifts and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill Jay with grace and power, and make him a priest in the Church.
Jay is part of God's plan for reaching out in love to those in need with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He is an important part of God's plan, but only a part. So what we do tonight does not let any of us off the hook for doing what God has called us to do. In fact, Jay's ordination is a time for each of us to reflect on whether we have in our own ways lived into the gifts God has given us. Then we too leave the worship service empowered to live into the call has for us, whether it be as teacher, or sailor, or mom, or....
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor