Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

After almost 20 years....

After almost 20 years of talking about "Baptismal Ministry" as the future of the church in this diocese -- in other words, that all ministry is, at its heart, rooted in the relationship established in Christ through Baptism, I read in our Diocesan Net News last night that a new pool of money was becoming available to provide training so that "lay people could help the clergy" even to the point of saying that "Clergy depend even more heavily on these same Lay people for help in carrying out their [ie. the ordained] vocations."

Don't they get it? That imperial top-down model of the church expired generations ago, and aside from a fond longing of simpler times, no longer exists. In the 1970's, Wes Frensdorff, the late Bishop of Nevada, went so far as to say we are called to be "ministering communities rather than communities gathered around a minister," which language is being used in this diocese as we formulate visions to move forward. And yet we have this announcement inviting the Laos of the church to make themselves more competent so that they can help the clergy.

As a priest, I don't see my role as the one who directs others' ministries, but the one who enables and affirms other ministries. The only unique ministry that I hold is to preside at Eucharist and to pronounce the church's absolution and blessing. If our view of ministry is based on ordination, then we lose the real dignity that comes from responding to the call of Christ in Baptism.

Ordained ministry is indeed special and unique and a privilege. But I was first called by God in Christ to understand a relationship with God in community, where the gifts and functions of ministry are always present first, before anyone is called to ordained ministry or leadership. Is that such a difficult notion?

Today's weigh-in: 237 lbs. Consistent if nothing else.


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