Seven days and counting. A week from today I'm gonna be a made guy. ;)
What's that mean, exactly? What's the big deal about ordination? What's it symbolize?
One colleague recently explained it as being an act of calling one out of a community, recognizing gifts in that person for ministry, and entrusting him/her with the responsibilities of the office. He was careful not to use the word 'privilages' or 'rights' (contrast that with my M.Div), he said responsibilities. In other words, one who is ordained, first off, is no better or holier than any one else. Instead, s/he has discerned his/her gifts within a community, and that community determines whether that call is genuine. It's not just the person who makes that call.
Fast forward to next Sunday, where at one point during the service the congregation will be asked what they think about the promises I will have just made. As we'll be to the ceremonial part by then, they'll respond, 'Let him be ordained! Come, Holy Spirit!' This will come after the church I serve requests my ordination on my behalf, the Association says some words about being the ordaining body, and so on.
So community discernment is important.
What else? Well, I'll be able to perform the sacraments, which is kind of the stock answer people would give in seminary. It actually is an important component, being able to administer those two acts especially set aside as signs of God's work in and with people. The larger truth here, I think, is that as a minister of Word AND Sacrament, people will look to me to retell the stories of God interacting with the world, casting them in the light of how those stories are being retold and rewritten in the one being baptized and among those partaking of the meal.
This is what I am trusted to do: relate the stories of faith to those stories just now being written. The various communities from which I come have recognized, for whatever reason, God's call to me to relate to them new ways of being based on ways of being from our faith ancestors.