A few months ago, one of the children in our congregation asked me, “Pastor Paul, what is your job?” I responded, “Umm, I’m a pastor.” I fumbled with some answer about leading worship, teaching about the Bible, and visiting people who are sick, but I discover who hard it is to actually articulate what I do. My job (or more accurately, vocation) is very multifaceted.
There’s an old joke about pastors only working on Sunday. Of course, I work more than that. I love the variety of what I do. I think it is helpful for us to revisit the Letter of Call. This is the document that a congregation of the ELCA gives a pastor at the start of ministry together. The “we” is Amazing Grace, not a bishop, seminary, or committee. Mine is hanging on my office wall:
We call you to exercise among us the ministry of Word and Sacrament which God has established and which the Holy Spirit empowers: To preach and teach the Word of God in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions; to administer Holy Baptism and Holy Communion; to lead us in worship; to proclaim the forgiveness of sins; to provide pastoral care; to speak for justice in behalf of the poor and oppressed; to encourage persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel; to impart knowledge of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its wider ministry; to endeavor to increase support given by our congregation to the work of our whole church; to equip us for witness and service; and guide us in proclaiming God’s love through word and deed.
What a privilege it is for me get to do all of this with you here in San Antonio. Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor.
Happy New Year!
(From my January newsletter article).