Very recently, our congregation, by the will of the Holy Spirit, installed two new elders. They are both men of good report, qualified according to Scripture, leaders, servants and hard workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We praise God for them and for the work they have voluntarily undertaken.
There are three men, however, who were already in this capacity who have served the congregation for many years. And while we are thankful for our new servant leaders, our gratitude for those who have stood for so long is overflowing.
Beloved, being an elder in the church can be daunting, thankless, heart wrenching, unpopular, difficult, time consuming and even dangerous. This is so because they are charged with oversight. They are often analogized as shepherds of the sheep. And if you know anything about sheep, you know that they (we) can be unruly, obstinate, combative and subject to wander off. The task is made particularly difficult in this day and age because so many believers treat the church as some sort of quaint organization with flexible rules and leadership that you can choose to observe or not.
Of course being an elder is not all doom and gloom. There are an exceeding number of positives associated with the office and function. First, it is a special calling from God for men who have the capacity and desire to accomplish it. The joy of leaving the 99 to successfully bring back the one who has wandered off is unsurpassed. Being with members in their time of need can be very fulfilling. And simply doing the will of God in all of its definitions and permutations provides purpose, peace and rewards.
So today, special recognition and thanks is given to Grant, Charlie and Gary for all that they have done, are doing and, as they continue as elders, are yet to do. With the help of God, as elders, shepherds, overseers, presbyters, pastors and bishops (all Scriptural synonyms for the office), you have guided our congregation through times that have been both challenging and prosperous. We would not be where we are or who we are as a body without your efforts. On behalf of the entire congregation, thank you for all of your efforts. You are an amazing and valuable gift.
And as a church family, we look forward to what John and Ron, our new elders, will add to our spiritual lives. We know that the new team will lead us even closer to the Throne. May the Lord bless all of you, your wives, your families and all of us. The journey begins anew.