During an Ordination in the Episcopal Church there is a part called the examination which lays out what type of ministry you are being ordained to and asks some questions.  The examination is, of course, different for Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.  And each of those examinations has one line that I think particularly sums up the heart of that order of ministries work.  In the priestly examination it is this line:

In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s  people from the riches of his grace, and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come. –BCP page 531

When I’m asked what I am called to do, I often paraphrase the line something like this:  I am called to equip others for their ministry.

This means that my job is simple.   My job is to make sure that those around me have the things (skills, resources, knowledge of resources, and the stuff) to do the work God is calling them to do.  My job is to be the person who says, “Wow, what important work you are doing.”  To be the person who says, “Pause, rest, refresh yourself so you can keep on going.”  To say, “Have you ever thought about [new ministry].”

And my job is incredibly difficult.  Because the Church has spent too much time telling people that you have to be ordained to do this.  That if you have ecclesiastical permission to wear a collar, you somehow have the right interpretation of Scripture.  That unless you have had a person in a purple shirt lay hands on your head you can’t be a minister.

I’ll sometimes talk about The List.  It’s my list of things that I want to change.  It’s pretty long, but I have a long career in the Church in front of me.  I should be able to get three or four things on it accomplished.  But if I only ever managed to convince a handful of people, lay people, that their voice and ministry is unique and important to God and the Church, and that they should tell other people that this is true, I will be happy.

I am surrounded, have always been surrounded by talented, committed, faithful laity.  I would not be who I am without them.  Specifically, I would not be ordained without them.  Spending a lifetime telling, encouraging, challenging the faithful to be who God is calling them to be will be a privilege.

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