Insight from a Pastor’s Installation

A very close friend of mine with a great deal of pastoral experience has recently come out of retirement. I am delighted for him and the congregation he has been called to serve in Christ. May they all be blessed in our Lord’s grace and mercy. I am also glad to see him back in the role of Pastor, for I know he is like me and will not “really” retire because this is a vocation, not a job in the strictest sense.

Rev. Truffin's Installation Service

Rev. Truffin’s Installation Service

He took a picture at his installation service (which I am using without permission! Ha – love Facebook) of the communion table decorated for the occasion. Now, usually I am not one for a decorated communion – I don’t want to detract from the meaning of the table or confuse people with the words underneath the decorations, but on this day I make an exception. I feel that this table is a great representation of the pastoral calling. And so I dedicate this post to my dear friend, Rev. Terry, since I could not attend the installation service.

The table with the words “This Do In Remembrance Of Me” contains the symbols of our high calling in Christ Jesus.

The Bible. Of course we need to start here. This is the keystone to the ministry of Christ. It contains everything from our marching orders, our instruction in doctrine and godly living for us and our congregation and the very life giving spirit breathed words we need for exhortation, encouragement, discipleship, and reproof. Every pastor’s walk begins in the pages of Holy Scripture.

The Altar. The Bible is important but the placement of all of this at the altar is again part of the pastoral imperative. The early church apostles remind us that were “devoted to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” (ἡμεῖς δὲ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου προσκαρτερήσομεν, Acts 6:4). There is a reminder that the order is prayer first, then the Word. So often churches get Preachers who may handle the Word righteously but are not Pastors. We are servants who intercede, who pray, who use the altar, and encourage others to use it as well.

The Sword. Paul also cautions us that the ministry is also about defense (Acts 20:18-38). Defend yourself from sin (yourself), from the world and the spiritual powers against us. Defend the flock from the wolves that are always infiltrating and destabilizing the church. This is a difficult calling because the wolves look like everyday people. They look a lot like the hurt and disenfranchised ones in need of the healing Gospel. Actually, they are no different from them and often that is what they need. However, it may not be their time and we may not be the leader called at that moment to lead them to repentance, but rather to the door for the sake of flock. Use the Spirit to discern who needs defended and who needs a swift kick in the spiritual butt.

The Flowers. Battles can be bloody, the altar can callous the soul as well as the knees, the Bible study can sometimes exhaust the flame rather than encourage it. Remember the calling, to tend the garden of God. We do all this for the production of fruit. We give our all that the church may flourish, that they may be a sweet smelling offering unto God as they bloom and grow. But just as any garden, there are seasons without growth (on purpose) and seasons of pruning, and seasons of heaping up manure. There is time in the tending the delicate blossoms of the garden. There is danger in a untended garden too, for gardens always grow something, and the weeds are always hardier than the flowers. But in the end, we are in the vocation of beautifying souls.

This Do in Remembrance of Me. So, Pastor Terry, congratulations on your end of retirement. Take your place as the Servant of God, the Minister of God’s Holy Word and do all in and through and for and by our Living Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. For the sake of His great name. For the sake of his little children of faith. For the sake of those in darkness who need the Light. For the sake of His everlasting love in mercy and grace. For the sake that the true laborers are few. Do all in Him and for Him… For King and Kingdom. Amen.

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