Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and to God’s work?
In my reflections leading up to ordination, I started reading a book by retired UMC Bishop Ernest Lyght entitled Have You Faith in Christ? A Bishop’s Insight into the Historic Questions Asked of Those Seeking Admission into Full Connection in The United Methodist Church. His brief insights into each of the nineteen questions have been invaluable to my own reflection on these questions that I will soon answer. When it comes to this question, which begins a departure from the questions about personal faith and perfection, this is how he begins his consideration:
The question is predicated on the foundation of the first four questions, which explore one’s relationship to Christ and test one’s desire to seek perfection and to strivev after perfection in love. When we say yes to these questions we are also saying yes to God and the work of God’s ministry.
So this fifth question flows from the previous four. If I am to be wholly devoted to God and God’s work, that resolve flows out of my relationship with Christ and desire to seek perfection. Bishop Lyght suggests that this question should be read in two-parts:
- Is your resolve such that you are without reservation fully committed to God?
- Are you ready and willing to do the work of God’s ministry without excuses?
Today, as I consider my own resolve, I’m contemplating the resolve of those who have come before me. I have the honor of receiving the mantle of leadership passed from the retiring class of Elders at this year’s retirement service. It’s a humbling responsibility. I even have a line. Near the end of the service honoring the retirees, one of the retiring Elders will pass a lantern to me with these words: “We transfer this mantle from our generation to the young, indicating thereby that the responsibilities and dedication of the older generation will be caught up and carried on by the young, and the spirit of today’s Elijahs will rest upon today’s Elishas.” As I receive the lantern I will respond by saying “We who come after you take up the mantle which falls upon us. May we inherit a double share of your spirit.”
I’m struck by the simplicity and depth of this moment. The statements are simple. Then I start looking at some of the words. Mantle. Responsibilities. Dedication. Inherit.
I will stand there receiving the mantle of leadership from 31 pastors who, according to The Current, have served a total of 959 ¾ years in ministry. I believe they have shouldered the mantle well. These are one’s who have resolved fully to be devoted to God and God’s work. They’ve sacrificed for that commitment. They’ve laughed, cried, smiled, and rolled their eyes as they faced the joys and challenges of vocational ministry. They’ve “left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, and children…for me and for the Good News.” I am grateful for the many ways they have served Christ’s Holy Church through the years. I think I speak for all of us being ordained and commissioned when I say that we do not take this responsibility lightly. We want that same resolve and dedication they have had for so many years. We really do pray for a double portion of their Spirit as we move forward living out the work to which God has called us.
I am resolved to give myself fully to God and the work God has called me to, no matter what that looks like. For me, it’s a matter of trust that God’s grace will proceed me wherever I go. Part of my daily preparation for ordination has been the reciting of The Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition. The more I pray this prayer, the more I feel that resolve, dedication, and commitment.
Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and to God’s work? I am so resolved.
Lyght, Ernest S. Have You Faith in Christ?: A Bishop’s Insight into the Historic Questions. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015. Kindle Edition. Loc. 585
 Mark 10:29-30