That was the title of the sermon that my pastor and mentor, Rev. David Shadday, preached on the occassion of my ordination into the Office of Holy Ministry 5 years ago. The text for the sermon was based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. There, before family and friends, I made a vow:
- Do you believe the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
- Do you accept the three Ecumenical Creeds, namely the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds, as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?
- Do you believe that the Unaltered Augsburg Confession is a true exposition of the Word of God and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Authority and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord – as these are contained in the Book of Concord – are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?
- Do you solemnly promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, or Symbols, and that all your teaching and your administration of the sacraments will be in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and with the aforementioned Symbols?
- Will you faithfully instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine; will you forgive the sins of those who repent, and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you; will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying; will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry, admonishing the people to a lively confidence in Christ and holy living?
I will with the help of God.
- Finally, will you adorn the office of the public ministry with a holy life?
I will, the Lord helping me through the power and grace of his Holy Spirit.
Needless to say, these are very weighty vows that I made. They were not made lightly, nor are they something to be casually agreed upon. That day, when that stole was placed around me, everything changed. Things became more important. To say that the stole added weight around my neck is an understatement.
Five years later, looking at my ministry, can I say that I have been the perfect pastor? As much as I would like to say yes, it would be a lie. There have been times where instead of excercising my pastoral authority, I have feared man rather than God. There have been times where I have exercized my pastoral authority to a point where I have made the weak in faith stumble. Throughout my ministry, I have done what I thought was the right thing to do, only to find that it was the wrong thing. I pray that God (and my sheep which I have offended over the years) would be gracious and merciful to me, a sinner, and that through the work of the Holy Spirit, I may continue to a faithful pastor which God has called me to be.