And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. – 1 Peter 5:1-2 (NLT)
In 2006, I was ordained as an Elder in my church. There were many responsibilities with this role, but the greatest privilege was the ability to serve Communion.
It was a big congregation with very specific logistics. I was nervous the first time because I didn’t want to get it wrong. I couldn’t count how many times I had received the Sacrament in that sanctuary, yet it was like I’d never been there before. Once I got comfortable with the “rules,” though, it was pure joy.
I also especially loved it when my boys were in “my” line and I could offer the bread or the cup to them. There was extra love and meaning to offer the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation to the ones I’d carried for nine months and nursed for many more.
In 2014, I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. By now, my boys have followed me (been dragged) to many different churches with me. At first, this was practical – they couldn’t drive so they needed to go where I did. For a while, Eldest attended another church when he could get a ride. As much as I liked to worship with him, I was also happy he was taking the initiative to find a church on his own.
Youngest, however, has always been with me. We’ve been at Heritage now for over three years. It’s as much his church as it is mine. This became truer in 2017 when he was confirmed and became an official member of the congregation. It’s an odd role to be your own kid’s pastor. Looking into your own child’s eyes as you anoint them (and holding it together) is not something they teach you in seminary.
Last Sunday, Youngest was ordained as an Elder in our church. Being 16, it was a bit awkward since everyone else was installed the week before when he was sick. So Sunday, it was just Youngest and me standing up there in front of God and everyone. Me asking questions of ordination, him answering. I’ve been sick, and I had already preached my sermon, so I’m sure that’s why my voice stuck a bit.
The thing I remember most from being ordained as an Elder was the weight of the hands that were laid upon me during the prayer. Youngest received all that weight on Sunday since when I invited everyone who has been ordained as an Elder or Deacon to come forward (most of our congregation) for the prayer. Everyone had a hand on him.
And this was a good reminder for me.None of us parent (or pastor) our kids on our own. There is always a great crowd of witnesses participating as well. #church Click To Tweet
None of us parent (or pastor) our kids on our own. There is always a great crowd of witnesses participating as well. I could visually see that on Sunday. Even though I laid the first hand on him (on Sunday as well as on the day he was born), there are others right there beside me. And even though I’ve been his pastor and his parent, it was this congregation that called him to be an Elder. The Church is an amazing place. Thanks be to God.
God of righteousness and truth, you brought us into your church to show in our life together something of the orderliness of your creation and the love of Jesus Christ. Bless those called to be elders that they may govern wisely and fairly. Give them a full measure of your Spirit, that they may refresh your people along the journey of faith, discerning, teaching, and sharing the Word of life, Jesus Christ our Lord. – Book of Occasional Services.