Titus 2: 1 – 2
2 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Paul writes to his young acolyte Titus with sound advice on how to be a Pastor to his congregation of the faithful and what to teach.
There is a record of a very keen young minister who wowed the Vacancy Committee when they heard him and when he preached as Sole Nominee he had the congregation eating out of his hand and hanging on every word. They couldn’t wait for him to move into The Manse and take over, which he did.
On his first Sunday he preached a great sermon and everyone complimented him as they left. Expectantly they turned up the next week only to hear the same sermon, the next week he repeated it again. After six weeks of hearing the same (very good) sermon the Session Clerk was dispatched to The Manse that afternoon to “have a word”. The young minister listened then said “I am sorry but you are not getting a new sermon until you do something about what I said in this one!”
I don’t think it was that Minister who arrived at a Church to preach as Sole Nominee, obviously nervous as he got out of his car he sneezed and to his horror his false teeth flew out of his mouth and smashed on the tarmac. He looked at the pieces in horror, speechless, but a church member who had seen the event rushed up and told him it was OK he had some false teeth in his car. Full of doubt the minister followed him and was surprised and delighted when he saw that indeed the man had several sets in a case in his boot. They tried several pairs until he found one that fitted perfectly. The Minister went on and conducted a great service and was unanimously voted in.
With the voting and other goings on after the service he never saw his saviour to thank him, but made a note to do so later. Having moved in the minister did not meet his toothy friend and on his night of induction was surprised that he was not in the congregation. At the social afterwards the Minister in his speech told of how had it not been for the happy chance that the town dentist was in the car park that morning he would not be standing there this evening. The Session Clerk looking confused and as he started his speech asked about the man who helped him, as the Dentist was a strong member of the Catholic Church. The minister briefly described the man and his car. A knowing look came on the Clerk and indeed most of the company as they recognised who it had been, triumphantly the Clerk solved the mystery “We know exactly who you mean, he isn’t here tonight as he is out on business but he is not the dentist – he is an undertaker!”
To be serious for a moment. When I was a candidate I met an old retired Minister (and I suppose I am now in that category!) but he always told me “Preach Christ and him crucified and you will not go far wrong”.
I’m not sure if it has stopped me going wrong at times, but I have always remembered that advice, and unlike that congregation have tried to do something about it.
Lord God our loving Father, we hear your word, we read your word, but help us to live your word. May we put into action your word of love, of mercy justice and grace, so the World may hear and know of your Glory.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,