Indifference is not characteristic of the liturgy
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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Dear Candidate for Ordination,

God's richest blessings to you! Lord willing, you will soon be placed into Holy Orders. Pay attention to the vows. These are the things the Church thinks are so important that she feels constrained to squeeze an oath out of you to make sure you will do them. You can safely forget everything you learned in your Pastor as Administrator, Pastor as Counselor, Pastor as Janitor, Pastor as Coach, Pastor as Team Player, Pastor as Tiddlewinks Captain, etc. classes that you took in seminary so long as you just pay attention to these vows.

The scariest thing that will happen to you is Monday after your ordination when you come to your study and have no idea what to do next. Recall your vows. They will help you decide. You are supposed to be constant in prayer for your people, diligently study the Scriptures and the Confessions, minister to the sick and dying, instruct young and old, etc.

For more practical advice, you can read this by Fr. Petersen. And here is some advice we solicited from our readers earlier this year. And you can check out all the resources on the Liturgical Parish Life CD (available at right) - which includes several different pastors' weekly logs. I asked a bunch of men in different settings (senior pastors, sole pastors, dual parish pastors, associate pastors) to jot down everything they did all day for a week. There are many other documents on the CD (confirmation programs, marriage counseling, resources for talking with your elders about every Sunday communion, etc., etc.) that you may find helpful when you get to your new place.

Another brass tacks issue: how to schedule your ordination. It often seems that the powers that be just assume candidates know what is going on and so never tell them. It's up to you to contact the DP in the district to which you have been called. You need to first talk to him to decide where you will be ordained. Some DPs feel strongly about having it be in the place that called you - others will encourage you to have it in your home parish (in which case you will have two DPs to contact). You should have the Lord's Supper at your ordination. Sometimes the DP will simply refuse this - but if he merely hems and haws and "encourages" you not to celebrate the Supper, you can safely insist on it.

The DP has the first right of refusal on all ordinations in his district. He can assign the duty to a circuit counselor or even to some other pastor (your father, uncle, the pastor who confirmed you) if he is double booked. When scheduling, recall that your insurance takes effect on the first day of the calendar month after you are installed in your parish. So whether you are installed on June 5th or June 30th, your insurance takes effect July 1st. If the DP tells you, "I can't make June 26th, how about July 3rd?" don't hesitate to remind him of this fact and stick to June 26. Somebody else can do the ordination.

Some DPs come very prepared. Others do not. You should have photocopies of the LSB rite available for all assisting clergy just in case the DP does not bring them. They will need these during that portion of the rite wherein they read various Scriptures. If the DP forgets to lay hands on you according to the rubrics (anecdotes abound!) resist the urge to reach up and grab his hand and plunk it on your head. It still counts.

You will also need to arrange the opening procession and closing recession of the clergy. It helps to actually print this out visually and hang it in the room where they will be vesting. The order is crucifer, torch bearers, Gospel Book, assisting clergy in single file (Clergy never walk side by side in procession. In the Chicago area they line up the assisting clergy in order of their own own ordinations from newest in office to most experienced - a fine custom.), preacher, ordinand, ordinator. Same order for the recessional except that now the pastor of the parish walks last after the ordinator. When you invite area clergy, remind them to bring red stoles and either alb or cassock and surplice. Believe it or not, I have been to several ordinations where area clergy did not bring vestments because they were not told.

At Gottesdienst we are working on two projects especially aimed at the newly ordained and hope to have them out for next spring: Lutheran Preaching and My First Year in the Parish. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more.

The other things you will need for your first days and weeks: vestments, a travel mass kit, The Conduct of the Service, Daily Divine Service Book, a subscription to Gottedienst. And don't forget to plan now to attend Oktoberfest in Kewanee, IL, on the Sunday-Tuesday of Columbus Day this October.

Pr. H. R.5 Comments