Well . . . in as much as I sought out, dusted off and reprised some of Luther’s words on pastoral ministry, the words themselves are a bit narrow and Luther – especially in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church – was prone to polemics. Pastoral ministry is about Word and Sacrament, without question, but that ministry is supported and surrounded by the varied caring, education, hospitality, advocacy and evangelical ministries of the church. In my post I quoted from the ELCA Constitition on the work of an ordained minister, but I quoted only in part. Here is the entire quote:
7.31.12. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
a. Every ordained minister shall:
- preach the Word;
- administer the sacraments;
- conduct public worship;
- provide pastoral care;
- seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
- witness to the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad; and
- speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world.
b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within the congregation:
- offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed, and bury the dead;
- supervise all schools and organizqations of the congregation;
- impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry though distribution of its periodicals and other publications;
- endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization and the synod the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
- install regularly elected members of the Congregational Council; and
- with the council, administer discipline.
Even if proclaiming the Word and administering the Sacraments are the central tasks of a pastor, the ministry of the Word to which pastors are called is much more diverse than liturgical leadership. From church kitchen hospitality to the comforting Word offered in a nursing home visit to the juggling of ministry priorities and VBS, these are the things that a pastor – as steward of the Word and Sacrament – does.
Blessings to Pink Shoes, and to all who care for and nurture the Word in, with and under the multiple ministries of the church.