What I'm Reading Today: Leviticus 8-10
Most folks might be unaware of this, but tomorrow (October 31) is the day officially designated as Reformation Day. That means it's a day when we celebrate the contributions of those pioneering folks like Martin Luther who helped make the Reformation possible.
In progressive communities we also use the occasion to remind folks that the Reformation wasn't just a one-time event that we remember; rather, the Reformation is something that each generation is called to participate in for themselves as they continue to claim their faith in ways that are relevant today.
With all of this in mind, I've thought quite a bit this week about what it might mean to re-form our communities – both in historical and contemporary terms. There was one aspect of the historical Reformation that I think creates a wonderful bridge for us to use as we cross over into modern times and think about how those principles of reformation can guide us today. That principle is the priesthood of all believers.
You see when it came to the issue of religious/spiritual leadership, for centuries faith communities clung to examples like the one lifted up for us in today's reading from Leviticus. They thought of religious/spiritual leaders as ones who were clearly set apart from ordinary folks in a variety of ways – including the sort of intricate rituals spelled out in Leviticus 8. This sense of being set apart was originally created in order to establish a sense of order in the community and create a healthy degree of respect for those leaders.
Over time, however, something unfortunate happened as a result of this. People began to see ministry as something done "for them" by "others". It helped cultivate a culture of apathy (i.e. "I won't worry about that, I'll have the religious/spiritual leader take care of it for me"). It also contributed to the notion that there were places where religious duties were expected to be performed (i.e. at church) and places where religious duties were not to be performed (places like the "real world").
It's no wonder that by the 16th Century some folks were feeling a little restless about the spiritual direction of their faith communities. They longed for new ways of being that would recognize two things: (1) the active role that ALL people should take in the development of their faith, and (2) the expectation that the expression of our faith would spill over into ALL areas of our lives.
With that in mind, today I have a challenge for you in holding true to the principles of the "priesthood of all believers."
Today I want you to spend time thinking about what YOUR ministry is. You may not be an ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister – but there is no doubt in my mind that you are engaged in some expression of ministry.
Get creative in identify that form of ministry. It doesn't have to be a ministry tied into an institutional expression of "the church" (i.e. serving on a committee or holding a position). Rather, your ministry might be fully immersed in the real world (i.e. being the one at work that people come to with their problems, or the passion with which you parent).
Whatever place and whatever form your ministry takes, find the opportunity this Reformation Sunday to give thanks for the ways God has worked through YOU to touch and change the world!!!
Til next time …