The Ordination of Rev. Evan Paul Scamman
June 24, 2018 A+D
2 Corinthians 3:4-11
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In 2 Corinthians 3 St. Paul contrasts the Apostolic Ministry with the ministry of Moses. The Apostolic Ministry is a ministry of righteousness. He also says that “We are ministers of the New Testament.” These are the same words that Our Lord uses of His Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. “Drink of it, all of you. This Cup is the New Testament in My Blood which is given for you for the forgiveness of sins.” To be a minister of the New Testament is to be a minister of Blood that forgives sins.
The ministry of the Old Testament was also a Testament of blood. That blood wasn’t an abstraction. You didn’t say that you’d been marked with the blood of the lamb unless it had been smeared onto your door post, staining wood and rock. The blood of bulls and goats and lambs was poured out as a reminder of what the law demanded and of what God would do to reconcile us to Himself. The blood appeased God’s wrath, it made His people clean, but it was not given to them. It was given to God. In fact, they were forbidden from partaking of the blood because life was in it
The Old Testament was a ministry of the letter, carved in stone, whose purpose and intent was to kill. It killed the old man along with the bulls and goats and lambs to make way for a new man who could stand in the presence of God with prayer and praise. Through the ministry of Moses the people were delivered from slavery by water and marked with blood that caused the angel of death to pass over. They were fed in the wilderness with bread from heaven. They drank from the rock which was Christ. And when they succumbed to temptation and were bitten by serpents, they looked upon the effigy of Christ become a worm on a cross and were healed. It was glorious and it was good. Nonetheless it was the ministry of condemnation and death.
The Ministry of the New Testament is not so much a replacement of that as it is an unfolding and expansion. It is not called a ministry of condemnation or death even though Baptism drowns the old man and the Law still accuses and kills. It is called, instead, a ministry of righteousness, life, and the Spirit. It has greater glory than the old for it gives the Blood of the New Testament to God’s people and life is in it. That blood is not an abstraction. When we say that we’ve been washed in the Blood of the Lamb we aren’t talking about metaphors. We are confessing that His Blood has been poured down our throats to clean us from the inside out. The life is in us.
In the Old Testament, the face of Moses had to be veiled since it reflected the glory of God. Our ministers don’t reflect the glory of God in this way but we behold instead the unveiled face of God Himself in His Blood. This is the glory of the Father who gave His Son’s life into death to have us and who raised Him from the dead for this very purpose: that we might look at Him and not be destroyed. This is His glory: Christ gives His life in crucifixion and atonement and is risen back to life for us. His life is in His Blood. Giving us His living Blood, He joins us to Him. He is for us, with us, and promises to abide in this ministry: lo, I am with you to the end of the age. By this glory we are being transformed in the same image – an image of self-giving love – from one degree of glory to another.
A couple of chapters later, St. Paul lays it out again with different words. He writes:
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5: 18-21, ESV)
The ministry, or service, of righteousness, to which Evan has been called and into which he is placed today, is that which declares and bestows Christ’s righteousness to the unrighteous by preaching, baptizing, and feeding. It is an ambassadorial office that preaches and delivers reconciliation. Without this righteousness, the old covenant cannot be understood, for all the Scriptures testify of Christ. And only in Him, by His Holy Spirit, can we look at the Scriptures and see His glory unveiled. Therein is salvation.
This is what we were meant for. We were created for God. The reconciliation wrought by the obedience of the Son places us back into fellowship with Him. It restores us to our purpose and place. There is no more important work in all the world, a noble and necessary task, the highest vocation and privilege.
Paul asks? “Who is sufficient for this?” Evan is. His sufficiency comes from God who has made him sufficient. He is sufficient not because he worked hard in school or because he is morally upright. Lack of those things can disqualify a man from the office, but holding them makes no one sufficient. Evan is sufficient because God’s Word is sufficient and does what it is sent to do, gives what is meant to give. What St. Paul calls a service of righteousness and reconciliation the liturgy calls a servant of the Word. “I as a called and ordained servant of the Word announce the grace of God unto you.” That service can make use of men’s gifts, and men, by sin, can dishonor and corrupt it, but it doesn’t depend on them. For its purpose is not to reconcile men to men or to give credentials and honor to men from men. Its purpose is to reconcile men to God. Nor is its purpose worldly success or an easy life.
Set your hand to the plow and do not look back. God keeps His promises. He will see you through.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.