Warning: today’s blog might be considered blasphemous to some. 😉 Exploring ordination and asking the question “what is it for, who is it for and why?”
Ordination as Most Know it
In the Christian tradition, ordination is the ceremony or sacrament (if you are Catholic) that designates a certain individual (usually male) to act “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ) and empowers them to serve as minister, pastor, priest within their designated denomination and Church (notice I used “Big C” Church). In the Catholic tradition in which I was raised, this designation is even more restricted and clearly defined- heterosexual male only (don’t ask don’t tell), the ONLY one who can act in the person of Christ, the ONLY one who can preach, perform the sacraments, preside over mass, lead a congregation, run the business of the congregation, heal, teach, evangelize, etc. etc. etc.
Being raised in the Catholic Church, I had an opportunity to see the negative effects of this restrictive approach to ordination – most specifically prior to the Vatican II Council….but its effects still linger and I wonder what will happen under the rule of Benedict XVI and his “reform of the reform.” When you have only ONE MAN who is empowered to perform the ministry of Christ in the world….you get ONE THING…..PEW POTATOES. Pew Potatoes are dis-empowered Catholics (or any other denomination for that matter), who are never challenged, invited, formed or empowered to do anything other than show up to mass on Sunday. They have fulfilled their “Sunday obligation” and are therefore done with their job of being Christian. Now they can go back into the world and live as they normally live, perhaps somewhat inspired to be more loving and caring in the world, but in my humble (ok, maybe not so humble) opinion, Jesus wanted more from us. Like our pastors, priests, ministers, etc. WE TOO are called to BE CHRIST in the world and to be vessels through which God’s healing love, compassion, mercy, peace, justice, joy can be known in the world. We are called to do more than just show up and let the priest do all the work! And in truth, I feel sorry for our poor priests who are expected to BE EVERYTHING and DO EVERYTHING. No wonder no one wants to join. No wonder so many are burned out or acting out! What would happen if the Institutions did something different with ordination and gave these guys a break!?
Crazy Ideas from a Mystical Madwoman!
So, I have a crazy idea….what would happen if ordination was available to EVERYONE? Before you have a heart attack over this blasphemous idea…..Paul had a similar thought. In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12: 1-27). Paul reflects on how each and every one of us is uniquely gifted to serve God and to be a source of Divine revelation in the world and went so far as to say that in doing so, “WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST.” (ahem….”in persona Christi”). Why don’t we take this reading seriously? Why aren’t each and every one of us given the tools through which we can discern what our unique giftedness might be and to discern how God might be calling us to share these gifts in the world in service to love and recognize that in doing so, we are the Body of Christ? Why not?
Ordination for all
So here’s my crazy thought in form…..which will mostly likely NOT show up in any institutional church anytime soon. But, what if people were given the tools to come to know themselves more fully, to come to KNOW God in a very deeply and intimate way within their own hearts? What if people were given the tools to discover, cultivate, nurture and claim their own unique gifteness and how they are called to reveal God in the world through the sharing of their gifts. And WHAT IF…….when those individuals are ready to claim these gifts and step into the world to boldly share these gifts in service to God and God’s love….WHAT IF….THEY WERE ORDAINED? GASP! Then instead of having one man who is expected to fulfill all the gifts as healer, teacher, preacher, listener, confessor, counselor, administrator, accountant, evangelizer, etc. etc. we had individual people empowered and ordained as:
- ministers of healing
- ministers of teaching
- ministers of administration
- ministers of preaching
- ministers of leading
- ministers of discernment
- ministers of service to the poor
- ministers of hospitality
- etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
Just a thought!
Where have you been invited to know God and in knowing God, knowing yourself in a very intimate and personal way?
Where have you been invited to name, claim, cultivate your gifts?
Where have you been empowered to share those gifts in the world in service to love/God?
Authentic Freedom Ministries