Monday, September 15, 2008

Priesthood of all believers?

I am on one year mission to find out what the priesthood of all believers actually means. I believe one should never set forth on dangerous territory without some sort of plan. Certainly leaving a degree nearly finished to teach math in high school would count as perilous under any fair sort of classification. Something I have asked myself often, and have been asked so often: What is the shape and form of ministry? Why is there a Master's of Theological Studies and a Master of Divinity? What is the effective difference between the two, and why am I being so pig-headed about getting the Mdiv? There is a difference, and an important one between the two paths of theological studies. I am trying to figure out just what that difference is.

Take it a step further. What is the priesthood? It seems to me we are missing something very important here in this definition. It is a total consecration of a person to God and to the Church. But you can be consecrated without ordination certainly. Certainly there is nothing essential about the priesthood in salvation. All that requires is the movement of God and the assent of a person. Possibly you can say that priests bring about the possibility of meeting between humanity and God. And possibly you would be right? So the priest is a teacher and nothing more? That does not seem adequate either though.

On the topic of teachers though, there is an analogy there I think. The materials the priest is given to bring Christ forth in the world is the Eucharist. They have bread and wine. The teacher is given flesh and blood. God calls us to ourselves, our true selves. It is a kind of transubstantiation that occurs, making Christ present in the lives of their students. Who am I to say that one is more real or more worthy than the other.

This is part of the answer as it stands now. This is my own way to live the priesthood in a Church that denies its possibility. Under the superficialities of materials and costume, can anyone tell me where the difference is between the minister priest and the rest of us? Not only teachers, though that is close to my heart at the moment, but also any Christian life faithfully lived out, will perform this cultic duty of creating space for God and humanity to meet, of embodying Christ.

In conclusion, I pray to the Father, "Lord, conform me to the heart of Christ, and then conform my companions to me."