One of the great privileges of what I do is the privilege of praying with and for others. To hold someone else before God, to name their concerns for them and to intercede for God on his or her behalf is not simply a task of ministry – it is a privilege of ministry. And one we should all offer on behalf of each other.
Praying for others, intercession, is a priestly work. Priests stand in the space between God and the people, offering the people’s concerns to God, mediating God’s grace back to the people. Priests stand at the baptismal font on behalf of the whole church (as Martha and I will Sunday morning) and offer the grace of the sacrament of welcome and inclusion into the church. Priests stand behind the table and bless bread and juice, offering them up as the presence of the Christ who makes us his body and blood. Priests announce forgiveness and absolution, healing and mercy in all manner of circumstances. In that way, your pastors are all priests. And in the sense that we all minister to each other and the world, that we offer prayers on behalf of one another and the world, we all belong to a priestly community. It is not language we typically use as Methodists, but it is still applicable to us. Priests.
It is the work of Christ. As we study the three traditional typologies of Jesus’ work this month – prophet, priest, and king – we come this week to consider what it means to say that Jesus is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-5:10). We will look at an example of his prayer and sacrifice on our behalf (Luke 22:19-23, 39-46). We will praise the One who stands in the space between us and God, offering us to God, offering God’s mercy and grace to us. We will reflect together on what that means for our life as a “holy nation, a royal priesthood, God’s own people.”
I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we give thanks and as we worship our true High Priest, Jesus.
Grace and peace.