Let God’s stars guide you to Christ
- Order of Service: Word and Sacrament, p26
- Lessons: Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephesians 3:2-12, Matthew 2:1-12
- Hymns: 56, 83, 79, 67
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh!
I know that some of you are nervous and afraid. You’re nervous and afraid, just as I am, about the change that’s coming. After over six years among you, your pastor is leaving. And when a pastor leaves questions pop up. “What next?” “Will we get a pastor?” “When will we get a pastor?” “What will he be like?” “How will we get anything done without our own full-time pastor?” If I had the answer to any of those questions, I would give them to you, but I don’t. I don’t know the mind and purposes of the Lord, so I don’t know what’s next for St. Mark beyond the arrival of Pastor Gabb as your vacancy pastor later this week.
But I’d like you to consider something. The Wise Men, these Magi, did not have pastors that we know of. Yet they managed to find Christ, to worship Christ, and, we assume, to enjoy the bliss of heaven. King Herod, surrounded by pastors, these chief priests and teachers, couldn’t find Christ, except to try to kill Him.
I’m not suggesting that pastors aren’t important. Or that they’re a problem. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Scripture makes it clear that the pastoral office is a gift of God. God instituted the preaching and teaching office. He gives pastors. He sends pastors. He wants Christians to have pastors to preach the Word to you, to baptize you, to give you the Lord’s Supper. So, calling a new pastor isn’t optional. What I am suggesting is that we don’t give pastors more credit than they deserve. I say this for you and for myself.
I say this to warn myself to avoid the pastor’s trap known as the “Messiah complex.” I dare not think and act as if I am Jesus Christ here and without me all would fall. That’s blasphemy. And so, as I prepare to leave, I leave things in the hands of others. I leave things in the hand of the Council, the Congregation, and the vacancy pastor, trusting, better, knowing, that they will do fine without me. Because I’m not Jesus.
I say this to you, so that you don’t think that the departure of one pastor and the uncertainty of a vacancy means that the sky is falling, the world is ending, and the apocalypse is upon you. Because they’re not. To think so is to deny the God who says, Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5, NIV84). That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncertainty, or struggles, or awkwardness. Some things won’t get done or done the same way, because others will do them, others will learn to do them, and new styles of doing and leading will manifest themselves.
I say this to remind you that it’s not about the pastor. Again, the Magi had none, and things worked out. Herod had many, no doubt skilled and learned and capable, and he (and they) tried to murder Christ. So, if it’s not about the pastor, what is it about? Read More…