Finding All Our Gifts!

This week I've been working with the Council of Ministries. In particular I've been meeting parish ministers from all around the country. The reason I want to do this is that I believe parish ministers are pivotal for the growth and development of the Christian faith in Scotland. Over the years the Church has been affirming and developing the idea that there is more than one form of full time  ministry  in the church and I think that is good and proper. However at a local level it seems to be that in most situations we face today, the parish minister will be the key inspiration or enabler of such  new ministries. In promoting the importance of the gifts of all of God's people we have neglected to spell out clearly the  importance of  the continuing function of  the one who is entrusted with the responsibility of teaching and preaching and administering the sacraments. Let me tell you why I think this role is so important. The role of the minister  historically in the Church of Scotland congregation has been the teaching elder. Today we have come to see that  part of that teaching must be permission granting,  encouraging the people of God to make the maximum use of their gifts. Such teaching also involves preaching with a prophetic voice. Now I don't mean shouting and pointing the finger. I  mean being connected with  world issues and the social change that is affecting all of us,  being able to apply the teachings of the Bible in such a way that men and women are called and inspired to live in a manner that reflects the teaching and practice of Jesus. In the same way that the Old Testament prophets could read the signs of the times, we we who are called to world and sacrament must do the same today. To enable all this to  have an authentic connection ministers of the word find themselves engaging with pastoral issues, because it is by engaging with such issues that we gain insight into our preaching and teaching. The administration of the  sacraments are also part of the calling of the teaching elder.  The reason being is that  true preaching leads us to the place of action and sacrifice.  It never happens in a vacuum. The Spirit has prepared the ground long before a word is spoken. The gathering around the Lord's table on a regular basis is all about re-membering us and the Word, as part of the Christian community and it calls us into action.  We are invited to serve the poor, to live holy and godly lives. The bread and the wine are the outward tokens of the inward presence  of the Spirit of God. In baptism we are once again re-membering men and women and the community that we are a people being grafted into the body of Christ and the outward sign of  baptism speaks of the inward word of God's grace in our lives and the lives of our children. So amidst all the changes in our world we need to hear the voice of God speaking to the Church and I believe he still calls  men and women to the work of word and sacrament. We who are called to preach and teach have the responsibility of ensuring that the outward tokens are available at all times for the people of God. Those who deal and handle  and speak of these mysteries have an added responsibility to live holy lives, in order  that we do not bring the gospel into disrepute. This responsibility is not just for  ministers but for all who profess Christ as Saviour. The minister of the word  is the servant of the people encouraging them by faith to begin to use the gifts that God has given them for the upbuilding of the whole of God's people. This enabling role often takes us into the territory of the player coach and that in itself might well be a topic for another blog. So the last two days have been seeking to help those of us called to be ministers of word and sacrament to believe in our calling  that we have a pivotal role in sustaining and encouraging the people of God and the mission of God in the world.  

Posted By: Jill   On: 17 Nov 2012   At: 11:54pm

Well one challenge completed - contacted Crossreach! Mmmm collar was on all day Thursday but that was only truly because of funeral! However am sharing some of your inspiration with my congregation in the morning! So thanks Albert!


Posted By: Greta   On: 17 Nov 2012   At: 3:03pm

Thank you Albert, this is a prophetic word,as I look back on yesterday evening and the Ordination and Induction of our new Minister. To experience God st work as we prayed for God’s choice to come to our churches, and hear from his side of prayers for the right place to go for God. How important is his role in the life of the congregation and parish! May God lift up and sustain all who serve Him in this way.

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