Top ten ministry moments – #1: “Pastor Dad”

Finally, here’s the one you’ve been waiting for. My number one ministry moment, though, is actually a series of moments when being a dad intersected with being a pastor and I had the unique privilege of baptizing, confirming, marrying and ordaining my children. Continue reading

An extraordinary ordination

Yesterday I had the privilege of ordaining my son into the office of the holy ministry. His district president granted me permission to do so, and I served as officiant and preacher for this unique service about church. I am so thankful for the nearly two hundred friends, family, members and clergy who gathered to worship on Sunday afternoon.

I didn't know what to expect as the service began. What I mean is, I didn't know how I'd feel. At my children's baptisms, confirmations and most recently my son's wedding, I had some emotional moments when I got a little choked up and had to pause, take a breath and collect myself before continuing. I had my message prepared, but as I looked at the pastors who had come to be a part of the service, I knew I had to say something about each one of them. Each one played an important part in my son pursuing full-time church work. My brother-in-law who introduced me to my wife over thirty years ago was with us. My son’s father-in-law who had four children, two of whom are pastors and one of whom is now my son's wife was in attendance with his entire family. The campus pastor from Florida State was there, as well as vicars from our congregation who encouraged my son along the way. A retired pastor from our congregation represented all the members who prayed for and encouraged him along the way. A living biography! I also reflected upon the nature of his “labor,” the preaching of the gospel, but also reminded him to be himself, and especially to call his mama. After my amen, I gave him a big hug, and that is one of the best ways I can think of to end a sermon. There were a couple of moment when I started to feel emotions swelling up, but nothing overwhelming.

The powerful moment was when I placed my hands on his head and ordained him to the office of the holy ministry. What a moment, what a privilege, and what an awareness of our prayers being answered. Our Lord sending out another worker into his harvest!

After each pastor in attendance blessed him with words of scripture and encouragement, we prayed of the Lord's Prayer together. In that moment, the collective voices of the saints in heaven must have joined us here on earth, for our petitions have never thundered like that before! Yes, we were indeed surrounded by that great cloud of witnesses.

And then I got to place the red stole around his shoulders. Representing the yoke of Christ, it is indeed light and easy to bear, for His words are living, active, powerful, healing and forgiving. He finished up the service with prayers and a blessing, and it was time to relax, celebrate and get to work. After all, the harvest is great and the laborers are few.

I may never do another ordination, so I am thankful for the chance to do this one. I am thankful for the musicians, the worshipers, my colleagues who attended, the friend who made him a set of stoles, the many, many hands who prepared the reception afterwards and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit on this extraordinary day!

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Planning an ordination

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My son just graduated from the seminary and received his first call into the pastoral ministry. Just a few days ago I received permission from his district president to do his ordination at our church. Sweet.

Now I’ve only been to two ordinations in my life. The first was my own, in June of 1986 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Coventry, CT, my first parish. That seems like a long, long time ago. The second was for one of our vicars when he graduated. Now that I am planning a service and preparing a sermon, I wish I had been paying closer attention.

On the one hand, it’s not too hard. The Order of Vespers with the Rite of Ordination before the Collects. With a hymnal and an Agenda, a piece of cake. Worship folder? Plenty of templates to work from. Cover? That’s a little tougher. I thought I could find one to buy, but church publishing houses print stock very few. I can make my own, right? I found a picture to go with one of the texts he picked. Should work.

Now, a sermon. An ordination sermon. For my son. Hmm. Over the last twenty-seven years, I’ve preached somewhere around 1,000 times. But never for an occasion like this. I like all the texts he picked: Isaiah 6:1-8, 2 Timothy 1:8-14 and Matthew 9:35-38. I’m going to go with the harvest, prayer, laborers text of Matthew’s gospel. It’s time to get to work. I didn’t baptize him (I wasn’t yet a pastor when he was born), but I did confirm him and marry him and his wife. Now I get to ordain him! Like I said, sweet.

He doesn’t remember it, but he attended my ordination. Now I get to go to his. This is definitely one of the perks and blessings of being a pastor. And maybe a good way to begin an ordination sermon.