Summary: An ordination service ... Day after day commitment, all the while realizing the Lord could come back at any moment...
My father-in-law is a farmer. Over the years, I have come to learn and appreciate what that means.
When a yuppie comes out here from the city and decides to have a farm because it sounds so quaint, they aren’t really farmers. They may like playing around with the horses and maybe even doing a day or two of work of a year, but they aren’t farmers. Faced with the day to day reality of tilling and planting and cutting and weeding and mucking, most of them realize, they’re not farmers. They may like dressing up in the old clothes, but it isn’t really in them.
One day (like today), they’ll realize it’s raining outside, or it’s cold and snowy, or else it’s so hot that you cook inside of your Dockers. But still you have to go out and cut or till or weed or muck. That’s the day you realize, you’re either a farmer, or you’re something else.
You see, inside of every farmer there is a little clock. It says, ‘Harvest is coming, get busy!’ It’s the little clock that says, ‘You are farmer.’ It’s a little clock that drives them from sun up to sun down. It’s relentless, it’s always watching you, making sure you are redeeming the time, for the days are growing short. It isn’t sexy, but there’s work to be done, and by God it has to get done. The cows don’t milk themselves. It’s that little clock that separates the farmers from the farmer-wannabes.
Really, there isn’t any single task that a farmer does that is all that complicated. You take a shovel, you scrape the floor. You get a weed-eater, you cut the weeds. But the great challenge on the farm is this – the challenge to stay faithful to your calling, especially when you don’t want to be.
Being a Christian is a lot like being farmer. It’s no accident that Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a farmer sowing seeds, or to a mustard plant, or to vine and branches. Like being a farmer, some may even wonder why you should bother. If you ask a farmer, it may be difficult for him to tell you why he loves it. If you ask a Christian, it may sometimes be hard to say why he loves Christ – but you know you do. It’s like a good marriage – it’s love beyond words.
But like the farmer, like the marriage, it’s not always easy. It’s a challenge! There is no one single task that is beyond any one of us. But the day in, day out task of remaining faithful to a good and loving God is a challenge enough in and of itself. So, how is that we get the job done? How do we fight the good fight and run the race in the hope the glorious crown? How is it that at the end we are going to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”
Susan, this morning, you are going to become a deacon. No matter what they tell you in preacher school, this is an honor. It is recognition by this church that you have been found faithful. You should take pride in this, in the same way Schulz takes pride in his fields, or in the way you both take pride in your grandkids. This is a week to celebrate.
But what about next week? What about next month and next year, when it’s hot out and maybe there seems to be to much work to be done. When we get tired, where do we get the strength for service, the impetus to continue?
Well, this morning, I want to remind you of a few things out of this passage we just read that I hope will sustain you in those days when you don’t feel like a deacon. I want to remind all of us who have taken up our cross, why we do so. I’d like us all to remember, because it isn’t any one single that is impossible in this Christian life – it’s just a series of little things that we run into every day.
1. Remember that Service is an honor
One of the traditional things that pastors will do on such occasions is read about the first deacons, in Acts 6. What you find is that the disciples were feeling like they were being turned into glorified waiters – just bringing food to the infirm. So, they asked the congregation to pick out faithful men to do that work. They became deakonos – people who served.
It may seem like a dubious honor to be selected to be a servant, but it is an honor. It is honor in the way the Kingdom works. It isn’t particularly challenging to do any single task, but it’s pretty humbling to have to take up the mantle every day and “just be” a servant.