Thursday, February 14, 2008

A template for pastors

Our congregations (3 locations, 10 services) are reading/preaching through the New Testament. This week we start Romans. I was struck by what a wonderful template it is for pastors--both in outline and topics. Always begin with the gospel. Paul goes on to remind the Christians in Rome of many other points--don't conform to the world, be joyful in hope, pay your taxes, bear with the weak, keep your bodies holy--but he starts with the gospel. It won't make any difference what else you've taken as your topic of the day or Sunday School lesson, if you don't ground it in the gospel, it isn't love and it's a clanging cymbal.

One of our pastors, Jeff Marian, has received a call from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, Minnesota (Minnesota's next to heaven for good Lutherans, I've concluded--at least in the USA). UALC sends him out with love and regrets--he has a large following here, and his oratory is magnificent (I'm sure there's a better theological term, but it escapes me at the moment). So from the book of Romans, here's my send off (modified letter from Paul) for Pastor Jeff:

Jeff, a servant of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle
set apart for the gospel of God,
the gospel God promised us beforehand
His prophets in the Holy Scriptures
His Son Jesus,
who as to his human nature was a descendant of David
who through the Holy Spirit
was declared with power
to be the Son of God
by his resurrection from the dead.
Through him and for his name's sake,
Jeff has received grace and apostleship
to call the people of Minnesota
to obedience that comes from faith in Jesus Christ.
And we also, here in Columbus at UALC,
are among those who are called
to belong to Jesus Christ.

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