But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people… (1 Pt. 2:9)
For 30 years I encouraged people to become “the priesthood of all believers.” Go find your pulpit—those places where you can share good news. Go find your altar—those places where you can lift up ordinary things to the God who can make all things extraordinary by His grace.
Was I right to encourage people to become the “priests” in their lives? Yes.
But here’s another question: Did I know what I was asking them to do? Not entirely. Although my theology was spot-on, my experience was lacking.
Before I became a priest, all I’d ever done was summer work and internships. I didn’t know all the temptations people have to make a deal. Didn’t know all the pressures to “go along to get along.” Didn’t fully know about the trials of doing work that could empty their heart. Didn’t fully understand why some felt compelled to put on “golden handcuffs” to take care of their family. Didn’t fully understand the difficulties of translating their faith into a multicultural and multi-religious environment.
Five years ago, I retired from church ministry. I then joined the “regular” work force for the first time. I now know more about what I’d been asking others to do.
What’s today’s encouragement? I start by giving the same message I have always given—be the priesthood of all believers, wherever you live and work.
Even if my message is the same, my understanding of what I’m encouraging you to do is now more grounded in real, daily, working life. With that greater understanding, I give you the encouragement to “go be priests” with greater appreciation for your challenges and greater respect for your willingness to face into them.
One last word. If there are any ordained ministers who are reading this reflection, I encourage you to have more empathy for the challenges people have in being faithful in the work environment. I also encourage you to have more gratitude for those who give their time and energy to serve the church after long working days. No ordained person can thank those who serve the community enough.
- Where is your pulpit? That is, where are the places in your life where you can share and proclaim the good news of God’s love and grace?
- Where is your altar? That is, where are the places where you can lift up ordinary things and daily moments so that God can make those things and moments extraordinary and grace-filled?
- How could your pulpit be your home and your work? How could your altar be your dining room table, your bedroom, your community involvements? How would your life change if you claimed your “royal priesthood” in all that you say and do?