Partners: A sermon for the installation of a pastor and his congregation
Phil. 1:3-6 & Matt. 28:16-20
† I.H.S. †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ become so evident in this place that your ministry partnership is full of joy!
- The Band Leader
I have looked forward to this day for nearly three years.
Because this day is the result of a lot of work, a lot of time on the phone, and reading emails, a lot of frustration at times, if we are honest, some doubt, and finally, some relief.
And so people of Grace Lutheran School and Grace Lutheran Church, this is the day the Lord made…. For you!
You see, this day isn’t about Rev. Michael.
This day is about Grace Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran School, of which Mike, you, and your family become a part.
One of my illustrations of how the partnership between a community of faith – the church and school – and their pastor work together comes from my youth.
You see… my parents were ballroom dance teachers, and when I asked them to teach me…. They handed me a guitar. I asked them a few years later, and they helped me get a piano. Something about my coordination being so wrong that it would be bad for business if I tried to dance.
But have you ever seen ballroom dancers try to dance without music?
Here is the point.
You are here to be in the background as the people learn to dance with God. You will, in your time of prayer for them, in your devotional time, in your time preparing sermons and Bible studies, in your time laughing and crying with them, you will be helping them learn to dance….
To dance with God.
That is your role in this partnership.
You are the band. You have to help them with the rhythm; you have to lift their spirits and help them learn to live life, moving in response to God.
And hopefully, as dances end… you will give thanks to God for their partnership in the ministry, as you see how God brought them through this life and finished His work with them.
- Anxiety and Doubt
This isn’t to say it is going to be easy.
One of the things so often overlooked as we look at the Great Commission is where the disciples were. Just a little while after, they realized “Alleluia He is Risen” (He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!) and therefore… (We are risen indeed, Alleluia) is this phrase,
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!
Wait… what? Witnesses to the Lord’s nail spike prints in his hands, gaping spear wound in his side, and they….doubted?
Do you mean even they struggled?
Yeah – and there will be days for the entire community.
There might be an odd day when you are playing polka, and they are dancing the foxtrot. And the dissonance will make you wonder who is wrong and who is right….
Oddly enough, you can dance the foxtrot to a polka – you just have to move really quick!
But the partnership doesn’t end there… you get back to working with each other. You help them back into the groove, and then you almost want to stop playing – because they are doing the work of the ministry soooo sooo well as they learn to dance with God.
- Treasure what God has put together
And what is that ministry?
Well, how many people are in this Valley? According to the internet, about 517,000 people. About 60 churches here as well, according to one internet page.
So before you go into all the world to make disciples, you start here. 8618.6667 people to disciple, just if y’all take a single portion. Since you guys have such a clear view of grace, are such an awesome church body – and have a good pastor… let’s triple that. 25,850 people that you guys can reach out to, helping them become people who know Jesus loves them and learn to dance with Him!
There is the ministry of the church.
That is one of the things that happens when this partnership is doing what it is supposed to: when you, Pastor Hall, are setting the rhythm through your administration of the sacraments, your teaching and preaching, and the way you live. You set the rhythm in the way you dance with God…
What does it mean to make a disciple? The first step is easy – you wash them clean of sin in baptism. Not that the water is essential – teach them what Ezekiel 36 and Titus 3 say about God’s promises and actions.
The second part is a bit of a translation issue.
Most translations say, “teach them to obey the commands.”
The Greek is a lot better. I could teach for an hour on this – but Mike will do a better job. Here is what it says in Greek.
Teach them to guard the treasure (tereo) I have called into existence. (entellomai)
Teach them to guard the treasure that I have called into existence….
What treasure is that?
This treasure that the Father sent Jesus to die to create…
What I call the dance – that is what the treasure is.
When a good male leads his partner in the dance, and she trusts in him, there is a level of communication that occurs instinctively; it is based on that trust.
That is the treasure – this incredibly excellent relationship with the Creator of the Universe….
As your people learn to dance with God, something incredible happens. They reach out and love people around them, drawing them into the dance…
You are partners in this thing, and I pray dear brothers and sisters of Grace Lutheran Church and School – including your pastor- are so overwhelmed by what God does through this partnership that you give thanks to God every time you think of each other. Amen!