September 27, 2009

The Minister as Priest is a very important role. Priests must be a praying person, who prays with and for people, by holding up before God the members of his/her congregation and all those who are in need. He/she ought to bear the members on his/her heart and to love them as God has loved. In a real sense, the Moravian Minister intercedes on behalf of the people. He or she represents the people before God and intercedes on their behalf.


The Moravian Minister is also Pastor. However well the Minister may perform his/her Preaching functions, however well he/she may perform his/her Priestly duties, a vital segment of his/her vocation would be lacking if he/she did not fulfill the Pastoral role. This is both vital and essential, and Pastoral care is, perhaps, the most important ingredient in the fulfillment of the Christian Ministry. The word Pastor means a Shepherd and the ordained Moravian Minister is a Shepherd placed over his/her flock. The Minister as Pastor has the tasks to lead, guide, protect, feed, and when one goes astray his/her overriding duty is to seek, find and restore such a one. To be a Pastor, and a Shepherd, is an awesome responsibility. We find the Prophet Ezekiel declaring: “Thus says the Lord God: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not the shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them”. (Ezekiel 31: 2-4).

This is a negative image of the Shepherd or Pastor, but on the positive side we find the Psalmist saying that the Lord is his Shepherd who secures for him green luscious pastures and leads him beside quiet waters (Psalm 23: 1-2). Jesus also refers to himself as the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep and is known of them, and he goes to the utmost in laying down His life for them (John 10:11). In addition, Jesus commanded Peter to: “Feed my lambs…feed my sheep” (John 21: 15-16). In her famous hymn, there were ninety and nine, Elizabeth C. Clephane, tells of the travail and triumph of the shepherd as he seeks and finds the sheep that was lost. This hymn speaks forcefully of the love and compassion of the seeking shepherd:

Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine; are they not enough for thee? But the Shepherd made answer, this of mine, has wandered away from me; and, although the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to find my sheep.


And all through the mountains, thunder-riven, And up from the rocky steep. There rose a cry to the gates of heaven, Rejoice, I have found my sheep! And the angels echoed around the throne, Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own.


The Shepherd’s role, the Pastor’s caring concern for the flock, is the very heart of the Moravian Minister’s Vocation.