Thank You St. Luke’sIt was an incredible Sunday as we continued our celebration of St. Luke’s 100th Anniversary. It was a privilege to have Pastor Tania Haber preach. She served St. Luke’s as the Senior Pastor from Advent of 1999 to the summer of 2003. As she said to the congregation, “It was a blessing in my life. You, St. Luke’s, took the bold step of calling the first female Senior Pastor in our Minneapolis Synod. My tenure here was not all that long, I realize, but we had quite a ride together! I look back on this place with deep gratitude for your trust in me, for what we did together, and for providing a warm and faith-filled place where our two daughters spent a few of their elementary school years with lots of good memories of sitting with Smacky in worship, singing in Pat Lair’s kids musicals, participating in Pat Derry’s VBS. Those were formative years for my girls and for me as a young pastor.” Tania just celebrated her 20th Anniversary at Westwood Lutheran in St. Louis Park where she went after St. Luke’s.
It is very appropriate that Tania was here to celebrate my 25th Anniversary of Ordination. She was my colleague, internship pastor, and did the pre-marriage counseling for Nancy and me; and we just celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
Why a celebration at 25 Years? This reading speaks to the demands of the job, tongue in cheek.
The Perfect Pastor (author unknown)
The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes, condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone’s feelings.
The Perfect Pastor works from 8 a.m. until midnight, is always on call, and fills in as the church caretaker.
The Perfect Pastor makes $500 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $100 a week to the church.
The Perfect Pastor is 29 years old and has 40 years’ worth of experience.
The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and spends most of the time with the senior citizens.
The Perfect Pastor smiles all the time with a straight face because of a sense of humor that maintains serious dedication to the church.
The Perfect Pastor makes 15 home visits a day and is always in the office when needed.
The Perfect Pastor always has time for church meetings and all of its committees, never missing the meeting of any church organization. And is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.
The Perfect Pastor is always in the next town over.
I am far from perfect, but thankfully I not become part of the following statistics. The Church is struggling today to not only find pastors but also finds it equally difficult to keep pastors.
Mark Bergherr, President of the Congregation shared the following during the celebration of my 25 Year Ordination Anniversary:
According to the 2016 Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development helps seminary students and the broader church understand their culture:
1. Jethro’s Rule. This Sunday we will be studying the next Biblical Hero in the Old Testament as we continue our series Biblical and Everyday Heroes. Exodus 18.“Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone (vs. 13-18)…
… Jethro tells Moses to find capable people—who fear God, trustworthy people who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (vs. 21-23)
“Every Member is a Minister!
2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. It takes a healthy person to help another person be healthy. The statistics above speak to the importance of taking care of yourself so you can care for others. I have been blessed with very good mentors, like Pastor Tania Haber. I’m constantly trying to learn and grow. I stay in God’s word and pray without ceasing. I want the best for all people. I take every person’s words and actions with the best intent. My mantra is Galatians 5:22-26.“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”
3. Priority of Love – God, Family, Vocation. Both the Old Testament Commandments and the Great Commandment put God first. After the commandments of loving God, having no idols, do not take the Lord’s name in vain, and remember the Sabbath, the next commandment is honor family, followed by do not commit adultery – having something that comes between you and your beloved; for many pastors that can often be the church.I was told early in my ministry that my inbox will never be empty, there is always something to do as a pastor. However, never let your relationships be empty. I am grateful for Nancy, the boys, extended family, and friends, without I would become one of the statistics. I am not the Church. The Church is not the Lord. We are called to be God’s children. Jesus put it best as recorded by John 10:10,
“The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I came that you might have life, and have it in abundance.”
So thank you again St. Luke’s for your care and commitment of me, my family, and more importantly your care and commitment to one another and those we have the privilege to be in ministry with and to…
Let us live our mission, “We are a welcoming and growing community of faith busy making Christ known to the world.” It is Simply What Every Christian/Church Should Do. It is my privilege to be in Service with you. Worship the Lord together. Evangelize by being a loving Community within and outside of our walls, to those we know and the stranger. To be good Stewards, sharing our time, talent, and treasure. And continue to grow in our faith trusting the promise that keep us going, in Jesus name. Amen.