2017-07-23/Marks of Church: Ministry/Pr. Joe Vought & Pr. Annabelle Markey
Pastor Joe: During this 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we have been preaching this Sermon Series entitled “Marks of the Church.” The Church may be recognized, Luther said, where the Word of God is proclaimed and taught, where Baptism is administered to new converts in the faith and where the Lord’s Supper is celebrated according to Jesus’ command. It is also a place of Public Worship as well as Confession and Forgiveness. Another mark of the church is that it calls and ordains person to the Office of the Ministry. Luther said, “There must be bishops and pastors who Preach the Word, administer Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, preside at Public Worship and Confession and Forgiveness- in the name of the Church.” We can see how Jesus commissioned his own followers at Easter when he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven….” (John 20:21-23) And when he gave them the Great Commission, “Go, make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded…” (Matt. 28) So pastors are ordained to serve the Church, proclaim the Gospel, administer sacraments and to care for God’s people, to empower them in their baptism and ministry in the world.
Pr. Annabelle: Does this mean pastors are somehow greater than lay people? NO WAY! As Paul writes in Romans, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” Each of us has been given different gifts and skills for the building up and strengthening of this community. As Isaiah puts it, we are all God’s witnesses in the world, but pastors have a specific calling to care for God’s faithful. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and told them: “the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.” We are leaders and shepherds, yes, but we are also called to be servants of the Most High Servant and servants of all of you, disciples and servants in the kingdom of God. Being a pastor is really another way of living out discipleship. For me, part of the call to be a pastor was so that I could deepen my own faith – I was seeking God and found out God had a job for me!
Pastor Joe: Many of you know my dad was a pastor and I was influenced by my parents, their baptizing and raising me in the church. Growing up I swore I would never be a pastor, but God has a sense of humor and there were amazing faith mentors, camp directors and college chaplains who encouraged me. After ordination I served in team ministry with an older experienced pastor. He taught me a lot, was patient and encouraged me. We had different styles and sometimes we disagreed but we always honored each other, stayed faithful to our ordination to serve like Jesus and be teammates together. I believe every pastor is a disciple of Jesus and that God can use an experienced Baby Boomer like me and a questing Millenial like Pr. Annabelle to serve together and build up Christ’s Church. I like the way our different gifts come together creatively for ministry and new ideas. Sometimes we need to forgive each but we will always be a team together with you to build up Christ’s church.
Pr. Annabelle: Initially, I didn’t want to be in team ministry because I’d heard horror stories. Stories about pastors who didn’t get along, undermined each other, or couldn’t share power. So I knew it could be a difficult task, but after meeting with Pr. Joe and spending time grilling each other, I felt like we could make it work. That our mission would be the same and we would be able to serve together in this place. And I’m so happy I did. I give thanks every day that I get to be a part of a team. I’ve learned a lot from Pr. Joe and I am extraordinarily grateful that I have a partner whom I can bounce ideas off of. Together we practice this crazy thing called discipleship, learning from one another, fighting, forgiving, praying, laughing, weeping, listening to where God might be leading us. Without being able to practice confession and forgiveness together, working together might end up something like this… Pastors sing “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better.”
Pr. Joe: We freely admit that you have two sinners serving as your pastors, disciples who try to listen and follow Jesus, but like Jesus’ own disciples arguing about who is the greatest, sometimes we can get competitive. Thankfully we have learned how to disagree and talk about our differences, we have learned how to reconcile, listen and pray together. And we believe that if there is to be any competition, “it is to outdo one another in showing love.” (Heb 10:24) And when we work well together, we join our hearts, hands and voices with all God’s people to do God’s work and sing God’s praise.
Pastor Joe and Annabelle sing together: “We all are called to witness to service in God’s name, our ministries are different, our purpose is the same: To touch the lives of others with God’s surprising grace, that every folk and nation many know God’s warm embrace.” Amen.