…we entrusted the whole church with the ministry of word and sacrament?

I like having clergy who generally know their stuff – who are able to use the resource of their minds to preach and teach so that all might know the good news. Yet – it’s also true that we have oodles of laity who might enliven our preaching, folks who ARE leaders in the faith, whose voices are seldom heard apart from council meetings and private conversations in the parking lot or over coffee. What if we encouraged everyone to preach? Yes, trained rostered clergy on a regular basis.  But also our lay members on a regular basis – and not just when the pastor’s away on holidays! They would be nurtured and helped by the pastor, yes, and if necessary, closely overseen. But we need our eyes opened to the good news wherever God is present, and too often we only see the world from the pastor’s vantage point. A bit too narrow a view.

This also goes for presiding at Holy Communion and Baptism. Again, I don’t want a free-for all – but too often we don’t celebrate Christ’s holy meal because the pastor’s not available, even though the meal is in fact needed – pastorally, prophetically – at that time. “Do this in memory of me…but only when you have a rostered clergy present.” I don’t know, I don’t remember that being in the Gospels or Paul’s letters…

I wonder…are we missing out on one of the ways Jesus has promised to be with us because we are scared of trusting one another?

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3 Responses to …we entrusted the whole church with the ministry of word and sacrament?

  1. Kevin Powell says:

    rivkahlee,

    Couldn’t agree more. I think a lot of our theology and practice around the sacraments protect clerical privilege (to steal a phrase) at the expense of our mission.

    For example, I think it would be entirely appropriate for small group leaders to celebrate HC with their small groups. And perhaps, even small group leaders baptize those who’ve come to faith via their ministry.

    This means the role of clergy will change rather than be diminished. Our job will be to equip folks for ministry (I think I read that somewhere) and provide an apparatus for accountability.

    kgp

  2. scpeterson says:

    Knowing “non-ordained” persons who have presided at HC, I have seen the joy and wonder as well as the changes in their lives as they have been the ones to invite others to the Meal. They experienced God in a new way through the sharing of the words of institution with those they generally sit next to in the pews, and have come to a new understanding of what it means to give one’s life in ministry to the local congregation and the world.

    scpeterson

  3. revcowboy says:

    I am hearing an assumption that Word and Sacrament ministry is the only kind of ministry. Yes, as pastors we are to equip others, absolutely!!! But there are more ministries than Word and Sacrament, and in fact Word and Sacrament do equipping!

    But to me, the reason why the ordained preach and preside is a matter of the office. The Office that has been called to represent the Church in the congregation ,and the congregation in the Church. When a pastor preaches, or presides at a baptism or at the Eucharist, a pastor does so with the permission of the whole Church, that is to say the Body of Christ. This question of lay presidency is not matter of qualifications, but community. It is how we understand ourselves the Body of Christ and we submit ourselves to that Body.

    Erik

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