There’s a battle raging in the church at this very moment. It’s fought on social media pages and blogs, in secret Facebook groups and hushed conversations. It’s being duked out in voters’ meetings and house visits, in pastors’ offices and in school board meetings.
We lay people have a really hard time with the Office of the Holy Ministry.
We are convinced that pastors think they’re better or wiser or closer to God than we are.
We think the Church spends too much time talking about pastors and not enough talking about lay people.
We fundamentally don’t get what the big deal is about the pastoral office.
And the whole thing just really annoys us.
So we do battle. We argue that our job is just as important as the pastor’s and that we are just as needed as he is and that we don’t care what they taught him at the seminary and who does he think he is anyway?
We are certain that our committees and families and boards and ideas could get along just fine in the Church without him, thankyouverymuch.
And yet we’re still frustrated.
And so is he.
The dirty little secret is that the Office of the Holy Ministry is the only office Christ instituted. It’s the only one He said the Church on earth must have so that His gifts of Word and Sacrament can continue to be delivered to sinners.
And to those of us who aren’t pastors, that can be hard to hear.
Sometimes pastors screw it up. Sometimes they abuse that Office. But more often than not, our pastors are faithful. And their job is different. And it should be. And that’s ok.
We don’t like to hear that either.
But there’s good news in this. Because our Lord loves us, He gives us a pastor to deliver His body and blood, water and Word to us . . . and then He gives us still more. He moves some of us to print off bulletins, some of us to play the organ, some to teach Sunday School, some to see to administrative affairs, some to teach in Lutheran schools, and some to visit the shut-ins simply because they can.
That is to say, He gives us all that we need.
And then He gives even more.
And then maybe just a little more on top of that.
Just because He can.
This doesn’t mean that pastors are better or wiser or closer to God than us. It means that He has entrusted them with a unique task. It doesn’t mean that playing the organ isn’t important. It means that it’s different than handling the holy things of God.
That’s why vocation is critical. (And why you should read my friend Edie’s post on it here.) It’s why it’s necessary that we as Lutherans–whether we work in the Church or not–understand that the Lord places us into our roles to serve others, not ourselves or our job titles.
The pastor is called to do that on behalf of Christ.
We are to do it on behalf of our neighbor.
So let’s lay down our keyboards and iPhones. Let’s take a break from secret Facebook threads and thinly veiled tweets about what kind of church worker is better or worse or more misunderstood or not.
Let’s give thanks to God for our pastors and for the Office to which He has called them, that we might know in tactile ways that He forgives us.
And let’s give thanks for our lay people and the work in which Christ has put them, that we might know more acutely just what a gift the Body of Christ really is.
Your pastor is there to deliver you Christ’s goods. Your neighbor is too.
Let’s give peace a chance.