Sunday, May 29, 2005

Happy Installation To Me!!

I think I have mentioned before that I am new to New Jersey...Up until April, I pastored a very small, rural church in western New York--and I mean rural--A post office, a church, and a handful of houses. Now we're in the 'burbs, and this morning I am being formally "installed" as the pastor of my new church.

If the word "installed" brings to mind microwaves and dishwashers, you're not alone--but that's what it's called. The purpose is remind the pastor and the church of why they are here and what they need to be doing, and to announce to the community that, as one of my elders put it, "there's a new 'shurruf' in town."

Anyway, it is a fairly solemn occasion, and I thought I would share my thoughts--this isn't everything I think about being a pastor (I have a few minutes to speak, not a few weeks), but it gives you an idea:

"As I accept the charge and the challenge of being the pastor here this morning, I want you to know that I do so mindful of the Scriptures—The Apostle Paul said this, “for I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” To me, this means that the pastor needs to recognize that he is just one of many in the body of Christ; that all of us who know Jesus as savior have received God’s grace and God’s gifts; and so the pastor should exercise his gifts with humility, not pride.

"The Book of James says this, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” If a pastor needs anything to remind him to be humble, James reminds us that those who teach are asking to be judged by a higher standard, because what we say influences the spiritual life of others. And so the pastor, in his teaching, should be scriptural, accurate and careful to control his speech.

"The Apostle Peter reminds us that the Pastor should also bring a passion to his work, saying, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…” A pastor should be happy in his work, and excited about getting up every morning to serve the Lord and His flock.

"So a pastor should exercise the gifts God has given to him, stay humble, be scriptural, be accurate, be careful in speech, be excited about his work, be passionate for the Lord, serve cheerfully and recognize that he will be judged by a stricter judgment based on how he does these things…That sounds like a tall order, but the Pastor also knows he is not alone in this, because Paul also says, in 2 Corinthians 3, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit…”
"So I accept the charge and the challenge of being the pastor of this Church today, not because I am sufficient to the task, but because God has promised to make each of us sufficient to the tasks He has prepared for us…let’s pray.

"'Now may the God of Peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.'" Amen.

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