When my friend Ger Jones got ordained into the Anglican priesthood, he did it with the Catholic tradition by prostrating himself on the floor. I have always thought it a bit strange and don’t know if I have to do it when it’s my turn, but today I have at least found the rationale behind this tradition.
5. Why does the ordinand lie prostrate during the ordination?
It symbolizes his unworthiness for the office to be assumed and his dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.
I also read this passage today in my devotion, first time ever noticing the posture of our Lord Jesus when he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane:
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” (Matt 26:39)
Yes, Jesus went all the way and hit the deck. Can you imagine how it was like? His face touching the ground of that muddy, dark, gloomy garden……
Charles Spurgeon also commented on this verse:
“If this is the Master’s position, what should be yours as His humble servant? Shouldn’t your head be covered with ‘dust and ashes’ (Gen. 18:27)?”
So now I know it is not that weird at all to lie prostrate during the rite of ordination. In fact, it is all the more necessary if that is the posture of our Lord Himself, because He is the suffering servant and He calls us to imitate His posture of servanthood.