Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Installation of Pastor Arron Gust

It was a great joy to gather last Sunday evening at Christ Lutheran Church - Lanenberg, SK as my good friend Pastor Arron Gust was installed as the pastor of the parish (which also include Christ - MacNutt and Immanuel - Landestreu). It was my honour to preach at the Service of Installation. Note the red stoles. There is ongoing controversy over what colour is the appropriate colour for an installation. I believe according to the rubrics it is to be the colour of the day. However, there is some unclarity here as I am told it depends upon whether the service is the chief service or not. I like to cause trouble so I make a much bigger deal out of it than I ought. Anyway - Pastor Gust was installed - red stoles and all. Below is the sermon.
Installation of Pastor Arron Gust/08.10.08/Langenberg, SK/Genesis 3:1
Did God Really Say?

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
It is my honour to have been asked to preach here this evening as Pastor Gust is installed as the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church - Langenberg and of Immanuel Lutheran Church – Landestreu and Christ Lutheran Church - MacNutt. Hmmm……3 congregations in one parish. 3 in 1 and 1 in 3. How very Trinitarian of you all! It was almost 9 years ago that Pastor Gust, then a Vicar serving in Vanderhoof, BC first preached at Immanuel - Landestreu. That was when I married my bride and Pastor Gust preached at the Service. He didn’t embarrass me too badly at that occasion so I will try not do so tonight. Pastor Mark Dressler, who is here tonight, he was the MC for the reception here in the Hall…well that is another story….He did embarrass me badly…..but he has never asked me to preach. I preached in this pulpit almost 10 years ago when I served as the Camp Vicar at Jackfish that summer. So, Pastor Gust preached at my wedding and it is my honour to preach here again tonight.

The Lord of the Church has called Pastor Gust here to serve this newly formed parish. Many of you here may be thinking this is something you have done. Certainly the Lord has worked through you to this end. But make no mistake – this is God’s doing. Our Lord has called His under-shepherd, Pastor Arron Gust, to be His mouthpiece, His Ambassador, to you here in this parish. He has called Pastor Gust here to speak the Holy Word of God to you, to teach you, to feed you and protect you. He expects much of Pastor Gust. He expects faithfulness.
Dear friends, the Lord of the Church has called you through Holy Baptism to be His people. He has given you a home in the Church in this newly formed parish. In this home he feeds and nourishes you and guides you through His Word and Sacraments. He has given you a pastor to distribute these gifts to you. He expects much of you as well. He expects faithfulness

Did God really say? That question is a devastating question. It is the question of doubt. It is the question of unbelief. It is the question the serpent asked Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is a question to shake our faith in God’s Word. Did God really say?

We all seek certainty. We like to be sure. Measure twice cut once we say. Tonight there is some uncertainty. Tonight the people of this new parish are not entirely certain what the future will be like. New parish alignment. What is it going to be like? How do we function together? What is our new pastor going to be like? Does he like sausage and sauerkraut?
For Pastor Gust this is also a time of uncertainty. He might be thinking: What is a correction line? Is it pronounced McNutt or MacNutt? He might have a nagging doubt about leaving the people in Lappe – was it the right decision? What is it going to be like here for me and my family? There are a lot of people in this parish – can I keep up?

Did God really say? Did God really call Pastor Arron Gust to be your pastor? Or do we doubt that? Perhaps we like to say such pious sounding things – but do we really believe it? Perhaps we say the words but believe otherwise and think it really is our doing – it is all human arrangement. It looks that way doesn’t it? The Call meetings at times do not look particularly faith filled do they? Did God really say?

And Pastor Gust, did God choose you, out of all the pastors eligible for a call to this parish – did He really choose you? Or do you doubt that? Perhaps you think it sounds too arrogant to say such a thing. Perhaps you think that despite your time in prayer and contemplation you really took this call based upon human notions rather than the will of God? Did God really say?

Members of the parish and Pastor Gust. In many, many, many areas of life there is uncertainty. And that uncertainty will remain. But in this area, in what we are talking about now – there is NO uncertainty! Did God really call Pastor Gust to be your pastor for this parish? Yes. It is absolutely certain. Has the Lord of the Church chosen Pastor Gust to serve in this particular time in this particular parish? Yes. It is absolutely certain.

Did God really say… To the people of this parish - this is your pastor? To you Pastor Gust - this is your parish to serve? Yes. It is absolutely certain!

And what a blessing this certainty is for both pastor and people! This is not some accident! This is not a trial run. This is the way God wants it. What a joy for you to know that you are meant to be together. We gather this evening to celebrate this fact.

Certainty. Our Lord is all about certainty. He does not want you doubting who your pastor is. He does not want His pastors doubting whom they are to serve. Furthermore, He does not want His precious blood bought people to doubt their salvation.

So He has given us the Church. The Church is made up of people and pastors. Jesus spoke to the Apostles: Joh 20:20-23 "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld." Here our Lord instituted the Holy Ministry – a ministry of service. A ministry to give out assurance and certainty by way of the Gospel.

When you come to church you come to receive the gifts of God. These gifts are given with absolute certainty. The Word of God in the Bible and spoken in the sermon. The Lord’s Word of forgiveness spoken through the pastor in Holy Absolution. The water and the Word in Holy Baptism. The Body and Blood of Christ given in the Lord’s Supper. God works through these means to give you assurance. To speak His certain Word of grace.

It is God doing these things – not a mere man. With a man there is always uncertainty. With God things are certain. What He says is true. If God says your sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – they are! This is certain. Your pastor has been called here to remind you over and over of this fact and to distribute to you the gifts of God in Word and Sacrament.

We celebrate the joining of pastor and people together this evening. It is a blessed event. It is a joyous event. Dear friends, give thanks to God for your new pastor. He is here to serve you with the Gospel. He is God’s gift to you
Pastor Gust, give thanks for the gift of these fine Christian people whom you are to serve. They are God’s precious blood bought people. They are His gift to you to serve. He has entrusted them to you to feed and guide and nourish. The Lord has promised to work through you to that end as you preach, teach, and administer the Holy Sacraments
Did God really say... Yes. He did. And with thankful hearts, we as God’s children receive the gifts He gives. And all of God’s people say – Amen!

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