Wednesday Word: Ministers of the Church
Clothe your ministers with righteousness -- Suffrage A, Morning and Evening Prayer
This past Sunday we heard the story of the risen Christ encountering the disciples on the evening of the Day of Resurrection; “but Thomas, who is called 'the Twin,' was not with them.” In that first encounter, Jesus tells the gathered disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
In the sermon I pointed out that the disciples represent us. As the Father sent Jesus, so are the disciples sent. As the disciples are sent, so are we sent. We are sent to proclaim the good news of God in Christ. We are sent to help reconcile all people to God through Christ. We are sent to preach, teach, proclaim, and heal. We are Christ's ears and mouth, his hands and feet. As the disciples have become apostles, so have we become apostles.
This apostolic aspect is reflected in that charge of being sent to carry out Christ's mission to all people. It is the corporate body of those who are sent, all of us, that make up the corporate body of the Church. And it is this body that is described as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Unified in Christ, consecrated by the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the faith to all people, being sent to carry out Christ's mission, this is who we are. By virtue of our baptism, by virtue of living into our faith, by virtue of participating in the life of the church, we are all ministers with a variety of ministries. The ministry of the church can't be done by one person, so we are all called and we are all sent.
Which brings me back to Suffrage A.
We offer Evening Prayer every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, at 5:30. Most of the time we pray Suffrage A. When we pray that prayer, and specifically the line above, I tend to think that Episcopalians' brains default to equating “ministers” with “people who wear a collar.” I tend to think our brain defaults to the Archbishop of Canterbury, our Presiding Bishop, our Diocesan Bishop and/or Assistant Bishop, and our parish clergy.
But based on the fact that we are all part of the body of Christ, that we all make up the church, and that we are all being sent as Jesus himself was sent, we must remember that the ministers of the church are us. We are all ministers in one way or another. So when we pray that God's ministers are clothed with righteousness, we are praying for everyone in the church.
Know that every evening between 5:30 and 6, when I pray that God's ministers are clothed with righteousness, I am praying for you.