Summary: This is a short ordination sermon used to install a man into the office of elder. It precedes C.L.A.S.S. 101.
The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you.”
Did you know that we all have gifts? In the last two weeks, I have touched upon the parable of the wealthy landowner who gave his three servants talents before he left for a long trip. When he came back, he found that two of the servants had put those talents to use and had doubled them for the landowner. But the third servant did not use his talents and the landowner threw him out into the darkness.
God has given each of us gifts and talents, and he fully expects us to use them to build His kingdom. That is our charge. If we refuse to use what God has given us, we will also be thrown out into the darkness, which is hell. So today, I would like for all of us to remember that we do have talents and that we must use them.
We live in a world that is controlled by terror, and it is only getting worse. But as I look at the chaos around me, I remember an old man by the name of Hensel Carter. He came from Cincinnati, Ohio, back in the 1940’s to Arizona. He and a partner set up a camp in the San Tan Mountains, just south of Higley, Arizona. Their intent was to pan for gold and get rich.
As the years went by, Mr. Carter got married; then his partner died; and then his wife died. They were both buried at that lonely mountain campsite. Mr. Carter continued to stay on that mountain, where he stayed until he died in the 1990’s.
He became a sort of tourist attraction in his final years and that is how he made enough money to live on. People would come by to talk to him, donate money to him, and sign a guest register. I was one of those people. And the one thing that was impressed upon my heart more than anything was this man knew genuine peace. Not the momentary peace we know, but true peace. There was no chaos in this man’s life.
As he sat there, on a chair under a crudely made veranda, he reached down into a sack and brought up a few seeds, which he kept in his hand as he laid his arm across the table, palm up. He cautioned us to be very quite and not to move. Then he gently made a soft sound and a bird flew down and began eating out of his hand. This was not a tame bird but a wild bird. The bird trusted Mr. Carter’s tenderness. The bird knew it could eat in peace out of Mr. Carter’s hand.
In a world that is full of anger and hate, fear and violence, people need to know there is one who walks among them that gives true and reassuring peace by his presence. When we walk with the Lord, and when we give our lives to Him, we can walk among others and we can reassure others.
We have talked about the church and how we are to make the church a peaceful place to find and learn more about Jesus. It is not coincidence that the same things that are found in Jesus must be found in His church.
‘While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
We are to be peaceful, and we can only be truly at peace when we have chosen to follow Jesus. Olen is a perfect example of that. Olen has had a rough background, but I see him now as more of a ‘gentle giant’ of a man. He seeks peace through Jesus as much as any man I have ever known.
I have seen many elders talk a good deal about the love and peace of Christ, but few of them have shown it in their everyday lives like Olen has. He seeks Jesus in his life and he fully relies on Jesus to get him from sunrise to sunset each day.
We are going to ordain Olen into the position of elder this morning, but before we do, I would like to talk to you about the position of elder first. Who created it and what is it supposed to accomplish?
God anointed the Apostle Paul to proclaim His word, but He also anointed Paul to plant churches along his way. Every time he planted a church, he knew that he would not be there very long, so he appointed elders, or overseers, to care for the church and make sure the church was being run efficiently for God’s purposes.
Now, we all know that it is virtually impossible to have any kind of organization and have that organization run smoothly unless it has a leader. Paul knew that, too.