A pastor's continuing education

“You are not equipped.” The preacher looked straight at me as he repeated this sentence in a stern refrain. Looking across the worship space, I could see some uncertain faces, as the warning rang through a room festively decorated in red and filled with the heady scent of flowers.

In a few minutes, I would be coming forward to be ordained as a Lutheran pastor. As the preacher set before us the solemn charges of ordination, he followed each one in turn with the same stark pronouncement. “You are not equipped.”

I felt flooded with relief, the deep relief of hearing the truth spoken boldly and plainly. It is the truth acknowledged in the rite of ordination itself, in which the candidate responds to each charge with a promise and a prayer, “I will, and I ask God to help me.”


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