A Prayer for Mark Winkelman on the Night of His Ordination

Gracious God in Heaven,

On this night of recognizing the calling that you have placed in Mark’s life, we pray for the unique trials and temptations that Mark will face in the days to come:

Deliver him from the temptation of people pleasing.  Remind him that every leader in the Bible faced opposition, and he is not likely to please everyone either.

Deliver him from an independent spirit and teach him to ask for help.

Keep him from the temptation of painless growth.  Remind him that there is no growth without change, no change without loss, and no loss without pain.

 Deliver him from the cancer of comparison.  May contentment flow like a raging river in his soul. 

Keep him from the sincerity myth that believes that he will be able to avoid all criticism if only he is sincere. 

Deliver him from the temptation to be a hireling rather than a leader.  May he not value job security as much as being significant in the Kingdom of God.

Keep him from the temptation of overrating his own self-importance.  May he not be caught in the trap of believing that things can only be done by himself.

Give him not just the wisdom to know what decisions to make in difficult situations but give the courage to do it.

May he be humble enough to do whatever you call him do – even if it is not something great or desirable.

May he focus his heart intently on saving souls rather than saving institutions.

Give him the ability to discern spirits.

Give the wisdom to throw anonymous letters in the garbage before reading them.

Like a shepherd defending his sheep or a mother protecting her young -- may he sacrifice without grumbling, give without calculating, and suffer without groaning.

More than anything else, may he have a  laser-like focus on preaching the word and administering the sacraments.  In the words of Eugene Peterson, may he minister with word and sacrament in all the different parts and strands of lives of his people — in their work and play, with their children and their parents, at birth and death, in their celebrations and sorrows, on those days when morning breaks over them in a wash of sunshine, and those other days that are all drizzle.

We know that there are going to be days and months, maybe even years, when the people he serves won’t feel as if they are believing anything and won’t want to hear it from Mark. And we know that there will be days and weeks and maybe even years when Mark won’t feel like saying it. May you give him the strength to administer the word and sacraments anyway.

There may be times when people come to Mark as a committee or delegation and demand that he do something other than the word and sacraments. Give him the strength to not give in to what they demand of him. Remind Mark that he is not the minister of their changing desires, or their time-conditioned understanding of their needs, or their secularized hopes for something better. For the scandal of the Gospel is not giving people what they want but rather it is about changing the wants themselves.  With these vows of ordination may he be lashed fast to the mast of word and sacrament so that he will be unable to respond to the siren voices.

May Mark keep telling the basic story, representing the presence of the Spirit, insisting on the priority of God, speaking the biblical words of command and promise and invitation.

We ask this in the name of the one who has called him.  Amen.

Dana Hicks