“Father Joseph” is not a salutation I hear very often. This may be due to my age, character, geographic location, or denomination, but whatever the reason, most choose to forgo such a greeting. Personally, I am very comfortable with this ommission. When I start wearing the clerical collar, then my friends will know that I am desiring an upgrade in title.
“Priest Joseph” is another title never used. Technically, this would be correct, for the Bible does teach that all believers are priests. However, due to popular ecclesiastical usage, that title is something I vehemently discourage. My congregation regularly hears me say from the pulpit, “I am not your priest.” Contrary to Roman dogma, I do not stand between God and man. I do not have the power to bless. I am not a mediator. I have no atoning sacrifice to present to God on the behalf of sinners.
No, I am not a priest, but I know the Priest. Hebrews 7 and 8 describe him well. He is the “King of Righteousness.” He is the “King of Peace.” He has neither “beginning of days nor end … he continues a priest forever.” He is greater than Abraham; greater than Moses. He is the superior one who receives worship and bestows blessing. He is not to be worshiped according to the laws of the Old Covenant of Grace (Ceremonial Law), but according to the precepts and principles of the New Covenant of Grace. He is priest; he is king; and from his heavenly throne he issues forth this benediction:
I will put my laws into their minds. I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God. They shall be my people. They shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, “Know the Lord.” They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. I will be merciful toward their iniquities. I will remember their sins no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12)
So the best thing “Pastor Joe” can do this morning is to point you back to “Priest Jesus.” He has loved you before you were born. He has come to earth to earn your righteousness and pay your wrath-debt. He has gone to heaven where he continues to pray and make intercession for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He holds you with his strong hand, and nothing can separate you from his love. He is the Alpha and Omega of your salvation. He is the one who always finishes that which he begins. He is faithful, even when you are faithless. He is the Truth, and he sends the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom (God’s Law) in your heart and mind. He will come again, and we will worship well under his leadership.
So what are you doing still reading something written by “Father Joe?” Put down your computer, iPad or iPhone, and converse with “Priest Jesus.” He is waiting in his heavenly confessional for you. Enjoy his presence. Enjoy his grace. Enjoy his wisdom.
“Saint Joe” is getting ready to do the same.