1Then Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and power to cure diseases. 2And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3“Take nothing for the journey,” He told them, “no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no second tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that area. 5If anyone does not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that town, as a testimony against them.”
6So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
Today is an ember day, a day on which the Church offers special prayers for the clergy and for those whom God is calling out of the world to be set aside to serve God’s church as Deacons, Priests and Bishops.
For many this is seen as just another job, an employed role where people are educated and trained to be professional Christians. Holy Hands, or full time Church workers.
Despite this modern concept – it is very far from the truth. And on Ember days and there are 4 Sundays and the Friday and Wednesday preceding them, we remind ourselves of what the Ordained ministry is all about. As we pray for those at college, those in the Discernment process and those who have not yet responded to God’s call, we pray for those already in the Ordained ministry to reamin true to their calling too.
Firstly, it is a calling. God calls individuals to be set aside for this ministry. They are called to give up on secular employment and a worldly income – vs 3: “Take nothing for the journey” – and after ordination are placed in a Parish by a Bishop. vs 4 “whatever house you are sent to, stay there until you leave that area” And they are called to; vs 6 “Preach the Gospel and heal people.” Their work in a community is aimed at bringing that community into right relationship with God through faith, which is true healing. Praying for the sick – which brings healing, Baptising people – which brings healing and preparing them for death, which is the ultimate healing.
We need to return to the understanding that clergy work for God and live out that calling in a Parish. They do not work for a parish and live out their calling for God. This is a key aspect that we must get right if we are to bring stability and strength to our churches. Ordained ministers are a gift from God, sent among us to support the ministry and help people to find and use their gifts and to support the ministry of every believer. Every Christian is called by God to a life of ministry -do you know what your ministry is? Do you know what your gifts are? Deacons are the leaders of the laity of the church, working in the church and in the world; listening to the world and interpreting the needs of the world to the church. Priests, represent God to the people and present the people to God, equipping and encouraging and uplifting the people of God so that the Church can fulfil its mandate to bring the light of Christ into the world.
Hold your Ordained ministers in high esteem for the ministry that they are called to among you. Seek to use your gifts and your opportunities to build the kingdom of God. We believe in the ministry of every believer – what are you doing to preach the Gospel and bring healing? How are you supporting the clergy to preach the Gospel and bring healing? Today on this ember day let us all recommit to the life of the Church, let us give thanks to God for the gift of the three-fold ministry of Bishop’s, Priest’s and Deacon’s. Let us all commit to play our part in the ministry of the Church – for the best way to honour God and those set apart to lead the Church, is to be all we can be. We who are many are one body for we all partake of the one bread and to each of us has been given gifts for the edification of God’s Church. ( Eph 4:7/Rom 12 :6)
You have entrusted to your Church
a share in the ministry of your Son, our great High Priest:
call many through your Holy Spirit
into the ordained ministry of your Church
and inspire them to respond to your call;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.