Today, the weather was so very delightful that I went out to the woods, climbed the side of a mountain and sat on a rock, naked, basking in the warm sunshine of early February – thank you very much, man-made climate change! And while I was there, enjoying the magnificence of God’s creation, in the state that God intended, I contemplated the next part of the workbook my Pastor gave me, which you may recollect, is Called to Lead – God’s Call, Your Vocation by the Rev. Paul Baglyos. I’m still slogging through the first chapter which is all about baptism, a subject I think has been dealt with here in more than enough detail. I’ma kinda skip ahead to the next writing part, which is “Telling Your Call Story” – and that’s what this blog is about, if it can be said to be “about” anything. I’m kinda abstract-expressionist – I just do things without being very concerned what they’re “about”. So, I’ma skip that part too, and get to “Embracing Your Priesthood”, which is what I was thinking about when I was warming my birthday suit in the beautiful, mid-winter sunshine.
“In what contexts and at what occasions, if any, have you learned about Luther’s understanding of the priesthood of the baptized? Is this understanding familiar to you or new to you?”
Well, the Rev. Baglyos, this is a pretty new idea to me. I’ve been a self-proclaimed Lutheran for a month-and-a-half and I’ve sucked up a good bit of information about a number of things, including Nadia Bolz-Weber, why indulgences are bad and this here thingie called “the priesthood of the baptized”, which everybody else calls “the priesthood of all believers”. I was actually reading Martin Luther’s To The Christian Nobility Of The German Nation last night and this very subject came up. It appears that Herr Luther did not see eye-to-eye with the pope, Leo X, who he frequently referred to as “the Anti-Christ”. Among the many particulars that these two chaps disagreed upon was this very topic which we are enumerating here. It would seem that the Church had long maintained a sturdy wall betwixt the “laity” and the “clergy” and Dr. Luther felt that all Christians, who he would have assumed had gone to the trouble to get themselves baptized, were equally priestly, his primary source for this opinion being 1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light”, which does seem to indicate exactly that.
Certainly, I was aware that any fool can start shouting at passersby on street corners about whatever misguided notion s/he may have about Holy Writ, but it ne’er occurred to me that simply being a believer elevated one to the office of Priest. Huh. That’s very interesting. Prof. Luther goes on – and on and on – about the priesthood of all believers, a fact which I personally found quite edifying because I am a person who is riddled with self-doubt and insecurities, though I cover it well with my gruff exterior, every bit of which I exposed to the sun and cool, gentle breeze on this unnaturally beautiful day. The argument makes sense and I accept my promotion, though we, the Lutherans of the present day, use “pastor” rather than “priest”, which is a fine thing, IMO.
However, I’m still gonna go through all the proper rigamarole and jump through the ELCA’s hoops, because I’m trying to do this thing the right way – (the rite way?) – and not cut corners. It’s all very well and good to posit hypotheses about Christians being kidnapped and dumped in the desert and appointing one of their number to serve as their “Pastor” until such time as they can get themselves back to town, but that ain’t likely to happen in this real world. Sure as shit ain’t happening to me, that’s fer durn tootin’. But I appreciate any and all hints and confirmation that I, a lowly and wretched sinner, can become educated and ordained into service in God’s Lutheran Church. When I’m not all gung-ho, I’m hobbled by feelings of inferiority, a fact that God is certainly aware of, having seen me struggle to live up to the bare minimum standards for adults in this declining Western Civilization. I found Three Treatises by Martin Luther, which contains To The Christian Nobility Of The German Nation, a few days ago at a local thrift shop. (The other two treatises are The Babylonian Captivity Of The Church and The Freedom Of A Christian.) I obtain books by going to thrift stores and finding what they have to offer. Today, I went back to the same place and picked up Circumcision: A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery, which looks like a helluva good read – oh, and St. Paul mentions circumcision many, many times in his various letters, so I figured I oughta know a bit about it – I don’t remember mine. But anyway, I used to say I trusted the Universe to provide the books I needed – I guess now I should say I trust the Holy Spirit to fulfill that role. Six of one – 1/2-dozen the other, really.
So, isn’t it a coincidence that I happened to find Three Treatises a few days ago and that I happened to start reading it last night? No, it isn’t. I’ve been buying anything and everything I could find by and/or about Martin Luther, so obviously I woulda got Three Treatises. I don’t believe in coincidences anyway. But it is relevant to this particular section of Chapter One of the Rev. Paul Baglyos’ Called to Lead, which is about the priesthood of the baptized, which I’m calling the priesthood of all believers because everybody else does. And it does matter quite a bit to me, for reasons I have belabored above.
I’m gonna go ahead and check off Chapter One of Called to Lead. Hopefully, nobody is gonna check my work.