Speaking on behalf of the church that called you to serve God, we feel an urgent need to remind you of your high and holy calling so God's true work will not be abandoned for good but lesser things. We want you to be responsible for saying and acting among us what the Bible teaches about God, His Kingdom and His gospel. We believe that everything, especially everything in our world and lives that looks like wreckage, is material that God is using to make a praising life. We believe all this, but we rarely see or remember it. We need you to help us see it, and remind us of the unchanging truths of hope we have in Christ.
We need help in keeping our beliefs sharp and accurate, and our lives conforming to our beliefs. We don't trust ourselves - our emotions seduce us into sin. We know that we are launched on a difficult and dangerous act of faith, and that there are strong influences intent on diluting or destroying it. We want you to help us: be our pastor, a minister of the Word and sacrament, in the middle of this world's life. Minister with Word and sacrament to us in all the different parts and stages of our lives - in our work and play, with our children and our parents, at birth and death, in our celebrations and sorrows, on those days when morning breaks over us in a wash of sunshine, and those other days that are all drizzle. Yours isn't the only task in the life of faith, but this is your task. We will find someone else to do the other important and essential tasks. This is yours: Word and sacrament.
One more thing: we want you to vow to us that you will stick to your calling. This is not a temporary job assignment but a way of life that we need lived out in our community. We know that you are launched on the same difficult belief venture in the same dangerous world as we are. We know that your emotions are as fickle as ours, and that your mind can play the same tricks on you as ours. That is why we are exacting a holy vow from you. We know that there will be days and months and maybe even years when we won't feel like we are believing anything and won't want to hear it from you. And we know that there will be days and weeks and maybe even years when you won't feel like saying it. It doesn't matter. Do it. You have vowed yourself to God for our good. There may be times when we come to you as a committee or delegation and demand that you tell us something else. Promise right now that you won't give in to what we demand. You are not the minister of our changing desires or our time-conditioned understanding of our needs or our secularized hopes for a better life. Today we lash you to the mast of the Word and sacrament so that you will remain deaf to our subjective desires and demands. Your task is simply to keep telling us - and helping us believe and tell others - the Story of our Redeemer, crucified, risen and coming again. This is your work. So help you God.
God's people under your care
- adapted from Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles, pp. 23-25