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When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”Matthew 9:36–38

On April 26 and 27, 2016, Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri, and Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, placed 136 pastoral candidates into calling congregations. One of these men who received a divine call to serve as pastor in our church body was our own Nikolai Gibbons. Nikolai will soon serve as associate pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Macomb, Michigan, where he also completed his vicarage internship. With great joy and thanksgiving to the Lord of the harvest, Nikolai James Gibbons will ordained in the office of the holy ministry here at Saint John's on June 12 at 2:00 PM!

What is an ordination? Why is it important? Is it important? Dr. Luther used to say that “priests are born, pastors are made.” By this, Luther did not intend to say that clergy are higher or more important than the laity. Since Jesus Christ is our great High Priest before God (Hebrews 4:14), the One who fulfilled the law perfectly for us and was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, all Christians are royal priests (1 Peter 2:9) who through Christ can approach the throne of God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). At the same time, the Holy Scriptures clearly distinguish between the office of the ministry (pastors) and the priesthood of all believers (“priests” with a small “p”). To Luther's point, and the Scriptures teaching: pastors are never self-appointed, but called by God through His Church to publicly teach, preach and administer Christ's gifts (1 Corinthians 4:1).

It is the Lord who calls and places men into the office of the ministry. Yet, the Lord's calling does not come in a flash, nor is it done in a vacuum. Rather, the Lord works through the whole church, the various vocations of His people to help answer His call for labors in the harvest field. If you were to ask Nikolai, “what lead you to consider being a pastor?” I'm sure his response would be lengthy. Whenever I'm asked this question, I usually respond, “How much time do we have?” Parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, pastors, brothers and sisters in Christ all have an important part to play in God’s calling a man to serve His Church.

Because God has established the office of the ministry for the benefit of His Church (Acts 20:28) and because those called into this office must be qualified (1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9), proper training by the Church must take place. Once a man has received proper training, been examined and deemed qualified by the Church and has received a proper call, the candidate is ready for ordination.

The rite of ordination states that since the candidate: “has been prepared for this ministry by careful study and prayer … has been examined and declared ready and prepared to undertake this sacred responsibility … has in Church’s usual order been called …,” “[He] is now presented to be ordained and consecrated to this office established by God.” 1

Ordination is the solemn rite of placing this qualified candidate into office of public ministry. It is the public confirmation of the candidate’s qualifications by the Church as her pastors affirm their support to stand with him. Ordination is also the place where the Church and her pastors implore the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide the candidate to faithfully carry out his public ministry. Finally, ordination is the place where the candidate vows before God and His Church to faithfully uphold the teachings of the Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions and to faithfully serve God and His people accordingly.

We give thanks to the Lord of the harvest for using His people to move Nikolai to pursue serving God’s people as a pastor. We give thanks that Nikolai answered God's calling, has received the proper training and has been deemed qualified to serve God’s people in the office of the holy ministry. We give thanks for Nikolai’s divine call to serve God’s people at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Macomb, Michigan. Please join us on June 12 at 2:00 PM as the Church, God’s people and pastors, publically confirm, consecrate and place Nikolai into the office of the holy ministry, imploring the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide him for his work in Christ's Church!

  1. Lutheran Service Book: Agenda,“Ordination” (Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 161.

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.