**As a brief aside, for some reason Anglican tradition in the USA remember these Ember Days in the week after Holy Cross Day (September 14th) whereas in the UK they are acknowledged a week later.
Four times a year the Liturgical Calendar sets aside time to pray for the Church and especially that the right people would be called and set apart for ministry. Is this indulgent? Does this shut down the ‘priesthood of all believers’ if you’re regularly (four times a year!) praying for people to be raised up as pastors, leaders and ministers?
Coincidentally, my Daily Office Gospel reading today was the calling of the first Disciples to be ‘fishers of men’, which I have always read to in some sense refer to all those who are called to follow Jesus. Why then does the rhythm of the Church’s life, the Liturgical Calendar, ask Christians to think and pray specifically that God would raise up people for ministry.
I think there are two good Scriptural reasons for this which intertwine.
In Acts, the writer Luke (as in, the Gospel of) records a time where a group of believers fasted and prayed and discerned that the Holy Spirit said “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13). Saul and Barnabas went out into the Gentile world to preach the Gospel and establish communities which would mirror the Jerusalem experience after Pentecost. That is to say, local churches.
In Ephesians Paul teaches, seemingly from experience, that God “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:10-13). Since Paul identifies himself as an apostle it is not a stretch to assume that Paul understood his work, the work he had been set apart for in Acts 13 (Paul being the name Saul takes as he moves away from his previous life).
Therefore the Church has throughout the ages set apart people with a certain set of gifts and learnings to build up the people of God for the work they have been assigned, which is to say the making of disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
It is this deep and ancient calling of Christian ministry which I have heard resounding in my own life and which I have decided to walk in by staying in Annapolis to serve and to call together new communities of believers.
So therefore this week I am praying for the Pastor and Elders I serve and also for all those who have been called into Christian ministry. May you also pray for me as I continue in my ministry.
I ask your prayers for:
- My support raising, that I will reach my goal of $2000 (£1500)
- My paperwork, that it would be processed very soon
- My relationships here, that I would be received with grace and favour
- My life, that I would walk in a manner worthy of Christ in the power of the Spirit
Collect for Ember Days
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of
your faithful people is governed and sanctified:
Receive our supplications and prayers,
which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may truly and devoutly serve you;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.