A number of years ago, I came across the following from William Malcom MacGregor on the priestly function of the pastor.
“When a man awakens to his task there stirs in him a pitying sense of human need and trouble and of the frustration of human lives; so as a friend he seeks to get near to men, putting himself at their disposal for all good, and thus exhibiting the elementary qualification of a high priest who must (Heb. 5:2) be “able to deal gently with the ignorant and the straying.” But there is more than this in the priest’s office, for he stands also in God’s council and knows his mind, and thus can bring God and his blessings to men just as he brings men and their needs to God.” (Ministers’ Prayer Book, Fortress Press, p. 203)
MacGregor was writing specifically about the priestly function of the clergy, but all believers are called to be a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). The priestly duty of the church is also to stand in a “mediatorial” role between God and Man.
To adapt and paraphrase MacGregor, then: When we awaken to our task as priests, the church will be stirred to compassion by the needs, troubles, frustrations and heartaches of those around us. As friends we will approach people in need, offering ourselves to them for their good. We are particularly qualified for this role, not because we are richer or stronger or wiser, but because we, too, are subject to the same human weaknesses.
In this task, however, we must also learn to approach God in heaven seeking His wisdom, His council, His heart with respect to the things of earth. Thus, in our “in-between” role as priests, we are enabled to bring God and His blessings to people just as we bring people and their needs to God in prayer.”
I must say I am very happy to see this two-fold priestly function already at work among our small congregation. May we continue to be awakened as a church to our task as priests. As we go to the throne of grace in prayer and with the needs on our prayer lists, may we be reminded to go back and share God’s blessings with those for whom we pray. On the other hand, as we confront and try to meet the needs of those around us, may we continually come back to God, asking Him to bring His infinite love and mercy to bear in each case.
And may we be compelled in our task by the mercy of our great High Priest, who freely gave Himself for us and who continues to intercede for us.
(A theme to be continued.)