A Reflection. Ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Rev. Mark Lai
Being called to full time ministry is a daunting thought and journey for us all. When speaking to many who are in full time Christian ministry, being called to the Ordained Ministry is even more daunting and, to many, fear provoking.
There were many times that I had asked myself, “why am I doing this?”, ”why am I putting myself through this?”, which were very important moments. And to be honest, looking inward did not give me good answers. Instead, having found unsatisfactory answers through introspection, I had to turn outwards and upwards.
ORD was a joke that I placed into my ordination sign up link, but it had turned out to be more relevant to me than I could imagine. In Singapore’s National Service, we think that ORD is the end date, we go back to normal life.
However, ORD means ‘Operationally Ready Date’, which also means that we are ready for any operations should there be a need. If our country calls, we are ready having been through the proper training, to serve the nation when she calls. The day I was ‘ORDained’ was also the date that I was operationally ready, in a sense.
My reflection also has these three letters ORD. Order, Remembering, Direction.
Order. There was a time while writing my thesis that I struggled with the purpose of getting ordained. Many of my friends would say that they would be doing almost the same things even if they were not ordained, what’s going to be the difference here? I think that to an extent, they were not wrong, at the same time, there was surely more to it than just doing the work.
I was reminded by the book “Pastor” by William Willimon, that God’s use of the Church was to bring order into the chaotic and sinful world that we live in. It is God’s creative action to bring order in me. Further, it is not that I am the one bringing order, but God’s creative action that brings order through me to serve the Gospel, and the Gospel’s Lord.
While there are other ways to serve the Church, God wants to bring order, and the very order which He has given and established, cannot be subverted, and can only be accompanied through this blessing.
While the world is seeing the demise of institutions and is awaiting the end of the Church as an institution, God continues to use the imperfections of our human nature to bring his order in chaos.
Ordination was not so much about authority and power, but it was God’s intended way to bring order into our chaotic world, our chaotic lives – even in our imperfections, with His grace and mercy – through the proper preaching of His Gospel and the administration of His sacraments according to His Word.
Remembering. I’m always reminded when I read the Old Testament, that the whole liturgy was a form of the people of Israel remembering the salvific work of God – how he had brought Israel out from the land of Egypt, as slaves, into the land of Canaan that flows with milk and honey.
We remember God’s goodness in our lives, we remember God’s grace and mercy, His providence and His power.
At the same time, the Psalmist appeals to God many times, to “remember your promise to me”, Moses’ appeal to God was to remember his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We remember, but more importantly, God remembers His promises to us. We forget why we started doing what we did, but God always remembers why and what he had started, and he would see it to completion.
Remembering God’s promises to us is important, but more importantly, God remembers and has kept His promises to me, and to all of us. If he has called you, he has promised you His presence, His strength, His providence, His Spirit, His grace, to enable you to do what He has called you to do.
Direction. We stand at crossroads daily, choices that paralyse us, big and small. From who we shall date and marry, to what we shall eat – both as questions we struggle with, one seasonally and one daily.
Life as an adventure, and likewise, this journey in the life of the ordained ministry that I’ve embarked on, I would always be asking, “Am I going in the right direction?”, “Have I made the right choice?”, “What if I had gone the wrong way?”. What if…?
And I am reminded by what my wife, Chessa, said when we first talked about seeing each other, and again, when the weight of being ordained was right at precipice of our lives. She said: “I don’t know what it means to be a pastor’s wife, what matters is not that, it is that as long as God is with us, Jesus is with us, it will be alright.”
It doesn’t matter which direction we choose, as long as Jesus is with us, as long as we are walking toward Jesus and His Cross, towards His grace and his love for us, as long as we walk in it daily, and toward Christ daily, it would be alright.
Order, Remembering, Direction.
It is daunting. As I was preparing for this day, God reminded me over and over again that He was the one bringing His order through me, it would look different from what I can imagine order to be, and it surely has been.
He reminded me that he remembers His promise of grace and mercy, He remembers His promise of love and providence, and that even when I fail, even when I do not do well, I am sure that He is at work, and through an unworthy, imperfect person, He can still bring about completeness.
He reminded me that wherever I go, he is surely with me, and that is His greatest gift to me. With His Promises, I am ready.
The Rev. Mark Lai (Left) with his family, Chessa (Right) and Ameniah (centre), pointing up toward God, whom all glory and praise belongs.
祝福 Rev. Mark Lai 与您的家人，Chessa 和 Ameniah，向上仰望神，一切荣耀和赞美都归于祂。愿神在您的事奉和家庭中临在，赐予您力量和喜乐。