Jul 262013 0 Responses

Funny Friday: On Ordination

Contrary to current practice, ordination is not something which takes place to get a good parking space at hospitals, an occasional 10% discount at restaurants, or as a joke because it would be fun and funny if you did your friend’s wedding.

Ordination is a special time of prayer and reflection as a church listens to God and sets aside a person for an appointed task.

While God is involved, so is humanity which leads to some humorous moments in the midst of a holy time.

A friend of our family’s was once ordained to be a deacon. Part of the process is giving a public testimony of your life. As he was doing so, he accidentally switched the dates of the birth of his first daughter and the date he was married to his wife. Having a child out of wedlock wouldn’t necessarily disqualify a man from becoming a Baptist deacon, but he would have a lot of explaining to do. Never noticing the confusion he gave his testimony as had a baby, fell in love, married my wife. He was allowed on the board, but he was never asked to pray on Easter Sunday.

Many ordinations have an extended time of prayer in which all the ordained men of the church file by the candidates and say a special prayer for them.

A friend of mine was at a church during an ordination service and was not paying attention. When he noticed all the men around him going toward the altar, he assumed he was supposed to as well. As he stood in the line, he noticed his wife kept motioning toward him. He couldn’t figure out what she was doing until he suddenly realized he was standing in line full of ordained men. While he loved Jesus, he hadn’t been ordained and had probably never even made the ballot. Needing a way out, he pretended to receive a phone call and exited stage left.

As a kid, I always remembered what was being said as each individual man stopped and prayed for the candidate being ordained. I assumed it was high holy language until one day I found myself in the chair being prayed for. While many men prayed wonderful things, I’ll never forget what one whispered into my ear: “Everyone out there thinks I’m saying some pretty holy things to you right now, but I don’t know anything holy to say. May the force be with you. Godspeed. And Go Hogs.”

Gifts were an unexpected part of my ordination service. When I was ordained, my professor re-wrote the ending to a poem in one of his books and presented me with the book, a sword to symbolize the power of God’s Word, and a chalice to symbolize the answer to the great questions of life. It was a moving time. Total price tag of the gifts: $200.

My seminary friend saw the gifts I received and asked the same professor to perform his ordination. All throughout the sermon, my friend waited in anticipation at what his gifts would be. Did the professor write a new poem? Would his sword be bigger than mine? How heavy would the chalice be?

As the sermon ended, my professor pulled out a bag and said, “Jay, everything a pastor needs can be found in my garage. He then gave my friend an old rag to symbolize the common need of people, a Bible which was published by the professor (of which he had 100’s in his garage still in the box), and a 1970’s suitcase which carried the communion elements for performing the ordinance on the road. Total price tag of the gifts which could only be bought at a garage sale of my professor’s: $12.

My friend learned an important lesson that day: while all saints are equal in God’s eyes, not all students are equal in the eyes of their professor.


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