Isaiah 6.1-8 / 1 Peter 2.1-10, 25
A talk given at Morning Prayer, 27th November 2019
Being a priest – not just for those in funny collars
I know that we all have things that we find difficult to understand, and I’m sure that there are things I think I understand but have completely wrong.
However, I was once surprised and saddened to hear someone say that they didn’t apply the part of 1 Peter that talks about the priesthood of all believers to themselves because they hadn’t been ordained as a priest.
Apparently, they felt that because they didn’t wear a dog collar they were in a lesser class of people.
This seems a strange and unfortunate misunderstanding of an important concept that applies to all of us.
Yes, there are people who are called to be priests in the sense of vicars in parishes or chaplains in schools, universities, hospitals, prisons and the armed forces.
These are people who have a particular public, sacramental and leadership role in the church and in the wider world.
But they are not the be all and end all of what the Bible means by a priest.
Chosen by God
1 Peter is one of my favourite Bible passages for the sheer poetry of its language.
Who couldn’t be moved by being described as ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people’?
What this passage tells us is that we are all priests, not because a bishop has said so but because God has said so, because God has chosen us to be his, for no reason other than grace, and to receive the good things he has for us.
As priests we have the privilege of access to God, of being able to talk to him, know him and understand that we have a special place in his heart and purposes.
And our role as priests is simply to believe, receive and serve.
Our common calling
We are called to believe in Jesus, the living stone rejected by some but the one revealed as the Son of God and our Saviour.
We are called to receive God’s blessings and gifts, his forgiveness and salvation and his guidance.
And we are called to serve.
We are called to serve by proclaiming the deeds of God, in words and deeds, showing the world that God is at work and letting them know about his offer of salvation.
We have a role to serve others, in whatever ways God gives to us, and to spend time in prayer, praise and study of the Bible.
A Royal Priesthood
Finally, we are a ‘royal priesthood’.
And this is because the God we serve, love and are loved by is king over all.
We are chosen, loved and sent out by the one Isaiah saw sitting on a throne surrounded by heavenly beings.
This king offered Isaiah salvation and sent him out to bring the words of God to the people around him.
And our God and king now offers us salvation and sends us out to bring his word to the people around us.
May we all be filled with his power and grace to serve him as priests and know him as our king and saviour.