The following convocation prayer is shaped by the joys and challenges of ministry, but even more importantly, by the worship of the God who sends.
It was first offered as a blessing of encouragement over new graduates to go and serve with confidence, not in themselves, but in the God whose mission of mercy and grace we extend; to care for the flock and welcome the stranger with compassionate perseverance, not in their own strength but through the streams of his grace flowing through them, Spirit led; to look to the mountains and know that their help comes from the LORD, fed, protected and sustained by he who never slumbers or sleeps. (Psalm 121)
In the inevitable pressures which come from pastoring a congregation, we need to know we are being held up in prayer. In the inevitable stressors which come from being brothers and sisters in Christ not yet completely formed into his likeness, we need to know that the power to pursue the unity and peace of the church resides in a regular return to prayer for one another out of reverence for him. In the inevitable testings which come from external persecution and oppression, we need to know and let others know, we stand as one.
I invite you now to receive it as a blessing on you and your ministry, making the obvious minor adjustments of denomination or season of ministry to better reflect your situation.
If you don’t happen to be a pastor or teacher within the church, please consider praying it on behalf of those who serve in this way, asking that they may remain rooted in their call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and so point others to him. Bound together with all who belong to Christ throughout the universal church, we ask for gentle boldness to fill every believer, enabling us to remain faithful in tumultuous times, rightly dividing the word of truth in love as shepherds and sheep in tune with him.
‘Holy God, in whom we live and move and have our being, we acknowledge your presence and your gracious call on our lives with a deep sense of gratitude. You have chosen us in Christ to receive the blessing of forgiveness through faith and repentance, the word of hope with joy, and the indwelling of your Spirit as a guarantee that every promise made to us in the gospel will come to pass. Risen Lord, in your ascended glory you reign with absolute authority and as King and Head of the church, you have charged us with the privileged responsibility of participation in your mission of redemption and re-creation. May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven through the powerful witness of your Word and Spirit in and through the life of your church.
We thank you for the gift of pastors and teachers who have submitted themselves to a process of study and discernment for the purpose of building up your body in its ministry of reconciliation in the world. In the unity of the Spirit, we pray that you would instil in each servant of yours, a firm conviction of your truth. Surround them with the protective walls of integrity, faithfulness and trust in you. Fill them with the magnitude of your compassionate and grace-filled heart to minister effectively as they hold forth the word of life in word and in deed. Thank you for each graduate here this evening who return to congregations, presbyteries, and communities having completed this portion of their courses of study, further trained to witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Be exalted through their passion and commitment to be humble learners of you, to preach the good news, and to care for your people.
For those who are now prepared to receive a call as minister of word and sacrament within the Presbyterian Church in Canada, we pray that your rich blessing would fall on the message of their surrendered lives, producing fruit that will endure for all eternity. Empower them with your courage and peace to patiently and persuasively proclaim the whole counsel of God both when it’s popular and when it’s not. Give them your love, support and comfort in times of loneliness and isolation; your wisdom in complex situations; your strong protection when led through dark valleys of sharing your suffering. Enable them to run the race set before them to walk boldly by faith and not by sight. Extend to them your persistent invitation to remain in close fellowship with you and your people through ongoing personal spiritual formation so they will be ready to respond as you would have them respond, providing leadership that will honour you at all times, and living in such a way as to hear you welcome them home with the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
Awesome God, together we commit ourselves anew to you tonight, greatly indebted to all those who have gone before and mindful that it is now we who bear the torch of faith within the seamless communion of the universal church rooted and grounded in the love of the Triune God. Father, make us one even as you are one, to the praise and eternal glory of our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer before whom we will bow in worship for all time and eternity.
Holy, holy, holy LORD, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. Hosanna in the highest.
Send us out in the strong name of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.’
Prayer of Commissioning Convocation of The Presbyterian College in Montreal, QC, May 2008 The Rev. Marilyn Savage, Chair of the Board of Governors