Amy Grant had it all wrong.
Better than fall, better than spring, ordination season, not Christmas, is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s ripe with rich liturgies, cryptic pronouncements, the color red, chasubles, and shaky hands. And that season, that time of the year that the number of pastors in the LCMS surges once again, that season is upon us.
Ordinations are good for the LCMS. They’re good for the Church. Obviously. They’re good for those in attendance, and if the preaching is good, they even remind us of what we are to expect of our pastors and what we’re to hold them to. It’s a weighty season, filled with individual occasions in which a seal of approval is stamped on a vocation that’s not one to be taken lightly. It’s a season in which people don’t envy pastors one bit. It’s a season in which the world sees men who willingly, even joyfully, vow to get the sin of the world dumped at their doorsteps daily.
There is always one moment in the ordination rite that stops people in their tracks, when the church becomes quieter than usual, when the observers feel a little shut out, when those in the Office seem to be the only ones in the room. At the end of the ordination rite, when all the participating pastors gather around the newly ordained, when they’re in that holy huddle, piled man upon man, hand outstretched over the new pastor, there is a very clear, distinct, even tangible bond between them.
If ordination season is the most wonderful time of the year, that moment is the most wonderful of the rite. For those us observing, we learn that these men are brothers, that their bond is stronger than that of men in any other organization on earth because God’s work through them stretches beyond this time and space. Copy editors don’t have that connection. Secretaries don’t travel for hours to see another secretary get hired. Pig farmers don’t call up other pig farmers for support. But pastors always have their brothers, and because of them, that mutual consolation that lasts from the earliest day at the seminary until the day they are returned to the earth.
Amy Grant had it wrong. Ordination season, not Christmas, is the most wonderful time of the year. And blessed are we: It’s almost upon us.