I was recently visiting with a pastor friend who told me one of his core commitments in ministry is to “have absolutely nothing new to say.”
You might be thinking, “well, that sounds pretty boring, never having anything new to say!” But the truth is far deeper. While we certainly don’t try to bore anyone, we work hard to stay completely faithful to God’s word. In fact, it reminded me of Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 2:15. There, Paul writes, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.” The more I thought about my friend’s statement, the more I realized how much I agreed with his statement.
His statement made me think about the vows every United Methodist Elder takes at their ordination (in our tradition, fully ordained clergy are called Elders, no matter their age). The bishop, prior to laying hands on us for ordination, asks us a series of questions. Here are a few of those questions followed by the response of each Elder being ordained:
“Do you trust that you are called by God to the life and work of an elder?”
“I do so trust.”
“Do you believe in the Triune God, and confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
“I do so believe and confess.”
“Are you persuaded that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and are the unique and authoritative standard for the Church’s faith and life?”
“I am so persuaded, by God’s grace.”
“Will you be faithful in prayer, in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures, and with the help of the Holy Spirit continually rekindle the gift of God that is in you?”
“I will, with the help of God.”
At my ordination, I promised that, “the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and are the unique and authoritative standard for the Church’s faith and life.” Anytime I deviate from the message of truth and grace contained in Scripture, even unintentionally, I distract from the power of God’s word.
Looking back at these vows, i realized I share the same commitment as my friend. Although I hope to present the message of scripture in creative ways, I am committed to adding “nothing new” to the message of God’s word.
In Jeremiah 6:16, the prophet writes, “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” I pray that we continue to seek the ancient paths of God’s word and find rest for our souls, no matter what comes our way.