BY BENJAMIN J. LIPPERT |
On September 9th, I was consecrated a presbyter in the Moravian church. I received a lot of questions from friends and family preceding the service about what this means. It is the middle child of our 3 orders of ministry. (Ordained a deacon, consecrated a presbyter, and elected a Bishop).
A friend asked me, “Is it a promotion?”
“Well no, it is more of an affirmation of the ministry of the church I am serving and the work I have been doing.”
“Do you get a pay raise?”
“Do you get a new job title?”
“Well, then I don’t understand what this is all about.”
Honestly, I struggled to explain what being consecrated a presbyter meant too. Bishop Doug Kleintop who presided at my consecration service said consecration is important for a minister because we are ordained getting a small taste of what ministry looks like, but when we make a life-long commitment to ministry as a presbyter we have a far better understanding of the expectations, the challenges, the joys, and the struggles that ministry entails.
I think it is very similar to a married couple making a vow renewal. Being able to say ‘I do’ or ‘yes’ to somebody can be far more powerful when we aren’t looking at them with rose-colored glasses anymore. We see their strengths and weaknesses as a partner and we make the conscious decision to continue to choose them for the rest of our lives. For better or worse.
Being consecrated a presbyter is meaningful for our clergy because we make the life-long commitment to the job not only knowing the stress put on us and our families, but also knowing our flaws and shortcomings that come with carrying out our vocation. (It turns out our 6-week stewardship sermon series didn’t bring 50 new members to the church as we envisioned in seminary.)
Consecration or God making people and places holy is an important part of our Moravian theology. The Moravian Church under Count Zinzendorf believed God made every land across the world holy regardless of whether there were Bibles or houses or worship present. That understanding by the laity helped empower Moravian missionaries all across the globe. They did not need to feel pressure to bring God to the people, but they could already point out how God was working among them.
Embracing that theology should still inform our sense of evangelism today. We do not need bells and whistles to share God’s love. We just need authenticity and honesty about how we have seen God working among us.
It is not just the clergy that are consecrated in our church, but every child of God has been consecrated to share God’s love with the world. Jeremiah 1:5 said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I sanctified you.”
Brothers and sisters, how are you faithfully carrying out your calling on this earth? In our home life, at our jobs, and in our communities and churches we can share God’s love with others.Good needs us to participate in this holy work. St. Augustine said, “Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.”
We are holy people doing holy work. In the coming days let us take ownership of our high-calling. This calling is so easy to diminish, dismiss, or run away from. On those days of doubt, we need to remember that God needs us. He will not do the holy work of sharing love with the world without us.
That is our holy calling. It is not just some of us that have been called, but all of us. Let us all get to work at the labors of love we have been consecrated for. God needs our help today.
About the author
Ben was raised in Watertown, WI. He received a bachelor’s degree from Carroll University, majoring in communications, in 2011. After working as a try-ministry intern under Rev. Bruce Nelson at Lake Mills Moravian Church for a year he attended Moravian Theological Seminary in 2014. He graduated in May of 2017.
Ben has served at Schoenbrunn Community Moravian Church since July 2017. He also served in student ministries at Grace Moravian Church (Westland, MI) and Palmer Community Moravian Church (Palmer Township, PA)
He lives in New Philadelphia with his wife (Emily), his daughter (Autymn), and their two dogs (Jinx and Melvin). He could not be in ministry without the support of his caring and loving family. Besides being an active part of his church family, Ben is proud to be involved with Friends of the Homeless, vintage baseball, T4C, WJER morning radio devotions, and foster parenting.
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