This post begins a series on the promises made by ministers in the United Reformed Church at their ordination. It is intended to offer challenge and encouragement to ministers in training and pastoral charge. I hope it will be edifying for lay people to see the high standards that their ministers have confessed before God and the church. And for those who are not in the URC, you’re welcome to leave us to it but it would be great if you would stay.
“Do you confess anew your faith in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit?”
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
The day of my ordination was oppressively hot. I had to sneak a handkerchief into the sleeve of my gown to dab away the sweat from my brow. People’s clothes were sticking to the pews as the old sanctuary got warmer and warmer. Eventually the time came when I had to stand before the congregation and make promises. The temperature seemed to rise even further as I stood on the threshold of making vows that I bind me for the rest of my days.
But before I promised anything I had to “confess anew my faith in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
I had already confessed my faith at my baptism and entry into membership. Here I was to make a further confession in front of people who I was called to shepherd, love and lead. And the first confession I made was to declare my faith in the God of the Bible – God revealed as Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
To those of you about to be ordained: Do you truly see God in this way? Are you convinced by the doctrine of the Trinity? Have you studied the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds? Have you even heard of the Chalcedonian Creed that outlines the orthodox view of the Trinity?
Are you convinced by scripture that Jesus is the incarnate Son, the second person of the Trinity? Will you defend his divinity throughout your ministry?
Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is a person, in whom God dwells with his people today?
Can you confess with clarity and conviction that God is One in Three and Three in One?
And to those of you who are already ministers: Have you consistently defended this doctrine? Have you looked to increase your knowledge of this great mystery? Have you sought to preach with clarity that which you confessed before God and the church?
This confession will set the tone for the rest of the promises we will look at. When the question comes I pray that you will declare with passion: “I do!“