Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Theme: “Don’t Look Back!” (Luke 9:62)

S-1328 8SAP/3B 7/22/12 Hymns: (O) #578; (S) #682; 484 TLH (C) # 790

Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-44

Theme: “Don’t Look Back!” (Luke 9:62)

Installation of Kory Janneke as Assistant Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, SF

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The texts are from Luke chapter 9:62 “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’”.

In the name of the Lord of the church, Jesus Christ, greetings to you President Sattgast, fellow clergy of the “beloved District of SD, you the saints of Faith, but especially you my dear brother Kory.

Over 35 years ago, I married a farmer’s daughter. My father-in-law (Ed) was an excellent farmer and took great pride in working the land, making sure that his rows were straight. On one occasion my father-in-law asked me, “a city slicker” to assist him in planting wheat. I gladly accepted and asked, “How do I make sure that I am planting straight?” His response was, “You always find an object and keep your eyes on it,” and then he added, “but don’t look back!”

I took over the planting. As I headed north it was easy to keep the tractor straight. I had the house, all kinds of buildings and sign-posts. But as I turned to head South, I knew I was in big trouble, because there were no markers of any sort. I kept driving the tractor but I wanted to make sure that I was going straight, so I turned my head to the right (demonstrate), as I did, my hand also turned the steering, and when I looked ahead I realized that I had turned the tractor to the right, trying to correct what I did, I turned it to the left. Right and left it went because I disregarded what my father-in-law instructed me to do.

At first, it wasn’t that evident when I planted the crops. But after a few days the wheat began to grow and you could see how crooked the rows were like a slithering snake. That wasn’t bad, until the neighbors began to say, “I wonder how many beers Ed had when he planted this field!” PAUSE.

Not only in farming is it important to look ahead, but in being a pilot and sea captain—not because you want to make it look good, but because your life depends on it. A pilot and sea captain use an object-a compass to direct their every move. The compass is used to guide and direct them to their final destination. The compass is the instrument that will work when things go wrong, when the clouds cover their sights—they depend on it for dear life.

Therefore, Kory, I want you to come up here and take this compass. Place it in your office in the area where you pray daily to remind you of your calling as an under-shepherd of the flock of God. (Wait to hand the compass to Kory). I pray, this compass will always remind you to look ahead and not to look back.

Kory, today you are enjoying this beautiful moment; surrounded by family and friends, fellow colleagues and the saints of Faith. Tomorrow a new life will begin for you and your family. As this congregation awaits the pastor whom they called to be their shepherd.

In the hearts of these people burns a vision fueled by the power of expectations. At night they pray upon their pillows that in you (as the O.T. lesson for today reminds us) they will meet a shepherd they are longing to have. They are hoping that you will never disappoint them as the other pastors have in the past. The life they live inside their heads is much like the world of expectations that mold your thoughts and prayers. And so it is that both congregation and pastor are much alike. Each is eager to please and impress but of course this must mean that is each very much afraid to be known as we really are. Therefore, we wear a mask and that is why Christ leads us to the cross where we find the grand graveyard of masks.

Brother Kory, today you are being ordained and installed to assist Pastor Sailer in his ministry as a Pastor. And a pastor will want to care for the sheep the Lord has entrusted to his care. The apostle Paul before he left Ephesus spoke these words to the Elders (Pastors) “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Did you hear that good brother? “Take care of the flock of God!” These are not your lambs but His, He bought them with His own precious blood shed on Calvary’s cross and therefore, it is your greatest privilege and highest honor to feed and nurture Christ little lambs.

Even as you go about doing the labor of love for which you have been trained and found approved by the seminary. Let me remind you what you will find in this place. You are going to find the worst of sinners and the best of saints. In this place you are going to meet stubborn, obstinate, difficult and challenging people. You will discover they have a gene known as self-centered and self righteous. As you minister to them, sometimes you are going to pull your hair out and ask God, “What am I doing here with these people?” At other times you are going to be so overwhelmed with their kindness, generosity and care for you and your family; that in humility you are going to kneel in prayer and ask God, “What am I doing here, I am not worthy of these saints or minister to them.

You see brother Kory, you are no different than any of the other prophets who have been called by God to go and care for His sheep. I will remind you of the words of Isaiah who said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). You sure are and so are they. But to them you have been sent by the Lord of the Church to care and pour upon them the medicine that gives them life and salvation.

But I don’t ever want you to say, “I am just a pastor!” No, you are God’s mouth piece, called by God to bring the coal from the altar and put it upon their tongues to remind them, that you in the presence and by the power of Christ, forgive their sins, feed them the heavenly manna and strengthen them in their walk of faith.

And to you Heidi, I don’t wish to hear you say, “I am just a Pastor’s wife.” Certainly you are! But you are much more. You are God’s child, baptized into His name and blessed to be by your husband’s side to minister to him and to comfort him when he returns from those long voters meeting. You are to pray for him, encourage him to keep his eyes focused ahead to what the Lord has called him to do. PAUSE.

Saint Kory, now that you are called into the ministry, don’t look back. Your former life is over, now you take up the mantel of servanthood always looking ahead to the future and forgetting what was in your past. Don’t be like Lot’s wife who looked back and became a pillar of salt. Heed the words of Moses as he spoke with the people of Israel: “You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord Your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the Lord Your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess” (Deut. 5:32-33). Yes, remember these words and store them in your heart. Don’t do what I did, disregarding my father-in-law’s word, of not looking back. This is not only just for looks so that the rows are straight and you can take great pride of what it is you are doing. No, this is much more important because you will be planting the seed of eternal life in the hearts of God’s people.

How can you do that on your own? What gifts might you use to get the ministry going? You don’t have it in you. Remember what I told you earlier about the compass? It helps you keep looking ahead. Yet, there is another compass-a spiritual compass—the cross of Christ. Follow the example of Your Sea Captain Jesus, who set His eyes ahead and didn’t look back.

In the same chapter of Luke, 11 short verses before this text, we read these words: “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51). Yes, Jesus didn’t look back from the moment He left the comfort of heaven and took upon Him flesh—He focused on the task ahead. While on earth ministering to the needy, He kept looking ahead to that which the heavenly Father sent Him to do—to win man’s redemption. He wouldn’t let anyone or anything stop Him from going to the cross—not the devil, not the people who wanted to make Him king, nor Peter. We are told He was so focused that nothing would distract Him. The author to the Hebrews put it this way: “Looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Jesus’ whole mission was one of looking ahead with joy to redeem mankind from the unholy three-satan, sin and death. And He accomplished it when He was suspended between heaven and hell on a Roman cross to win our salvation.

Like your Sea Captain Jesus, I exhort you to be focused by looking ahead. And I want you to come up here and take this cross—your spiritual compass (that I made for you) and keep that in the same place right next to the compass, as you kneel to do your prayers, it will remind you of your calling as a pastor-to care for the flock and to have compassion on them as we are told in the Gospel lesson for today.

As you look at the compass and the cross may I remind you that man’s power brings about fear, but Christ’s cross casts out all fear and fills your heart with peace and joy!

To the saints of Faith Lutheran Church, don’t look back and compare Pastor Janneke with Pastor Sailer or other pastors. He is not them and he can’t be them. {Kory, do me a favor, put your foot forward, (see the size of his shoes) it is not like someone else. Brother Scott, do me a favor, put your foot forward, (see the size of his shoes) they are not the same. Kory, you can’t fit his shoes, so don’t try} Instead, I ask you to Support him, pray for him, encourage and assist him in whatever way possible to make this house of worship a place of harmony and unity.

To you Pastor Sailer don’t look back when you were all alone and wish to go back to that place. Now the Lord of the Church has provided you with an assistant to do the work together. Uphold each other, feed on each other’s thoughts and encourage each other in the work of the ministry.

To you fellow foot washers, don’t look back either. But continue to serve with gladness and joy the saints whom the Savior has entrusted to your care. Pray for Pastor Janneke, be a good example for him and include him in the many activities of the circuit.

And finally, brother Kory, don’t look back, instead, look ahead to the future and with great joy anticipate the mighty deeds the Savior of the world—Jesus Christ will bless you with as you minister, by feeding and caring for His people with His Word and Sacraments.

May He who never looked back but went to the cross—Jesus Christ; guide, guard and direct your heart, as you serve Him and His people. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


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