United Methodists don't use the term "priest" very often. This is one of the ways we're squarely within the Protestant tradition. We think in terms of the "priesthood of all believers" (1 Peter 2:9), rather than those who intercede on our behalf.
Still, there is something about having people in our lives who appeal to God for us. I have no reluctance about Jesus and a human priest, and me all asking for God's forgiveness and provision. I'll take all the help I can get.
The first use of the term "priest" in the Bible is Genesis 14:18 when King Melchizedek appears as a "priest of God Most High." His only other appearance is in Psalm 110:4, which is referenced in Sunday's reading from Hebrews 5:5-10. The author of Hebrews picks up on this relatively obscure figure and gives him a lot of attention, especially in Hebrews 7. Actually, though, as you'd expect from the author of Hebrews, the attention is really on Jesus.
It's Jesus who, obedient to the Father, becomes an eternal priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. He is forever interceding on our behalf and is the eternal sacrifice for us. We're told he "learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." Obedience is important for the Christ the priest, those who function as priests, and those who claim the name of Christ.
Obedience doesn't have to be onerous, but it is expected of us.
I have high expectations of all of our students at Central, including those who will lead us in worship this Sunday. They continue to impress me with how they think and speak about our faith, with how they live it, and with how they sing and play and pray and lead, all to God's glory. They're working to lead our worship services well this Sunday.
I also have expectations of the rest of our congregation. I expect that we recognize that soon many of these students will not be around us on a regular basis. Before we know it, they'll be off in college or work and if they haven't been shown how valuable we recognize them to be, they might move on from our church or all churches soon after that. They are too good to be taken for granted. They are too important to not be supported. Please be here Sunday to receive the gift they are preparing to share with us and continue, throughout the year, to give them the gift of your ongoing love and support.