The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
You Shall Not Want
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Let me tell you about this guy. He was a delightful young man, well thought of by most everyone who knew Him. He was a second-career man. The ministry is not what He did first. He is a genuinely good person and a wonderful Shepherd. If you follow Him, respect Him and love Him you will never regret it, particularly not in the long run. You have no idea what He has gone through to be your Shepherd. You know that is what the word "pastor" means, right? I have great love, respect, and admiration for Him.
I feel that way about Christopher Horton, too. I suspect you thought I was talking about Chris. I wasn't, although I chose the things I could say about this young man deliberately, but I was talking about your Shepherd, Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful thing when I can say many of the same things about your soon-to-be pastor as well, but this service, and this sermon are really not about Christopher Horton - it is for him and on the occasion of his ordination into the Holy Office of the Ministry and his installation as your pastor, but every sermon preached in a Christian church must be about Christ, or it is a waste of air.
I have known Chris for about twenty years, give or take a few. I was his pastor for decade or so. I have known his wife Lori for almost as long, I performed their wedding, and I have known his daughters for their entire lives. They both started in bible class within days of their births and are both quite the young ladies. I could tell you stories, but I am here to preach Christ for the occasion of ordaining and installing Christopher into the office of pastor, under-shepherd to Christ for this congregation, and associated in that work with a long-time acquaintance of mine, your pastor, Pastor Moe.
Chris's Confirmation verse is Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
The Lord is your shepherd, and He has brought you to this day. He has called you into His family, and now He called you, Chris, into the office of being His voice for these people, and His hands to serve them, and to show them His love by word and deed. He has prepared you by rigorous study and by challenging you with life in His presence. You thought you were going to be a gunsmith once upon a time. Your Shepherd knew better, and led you every step of the way. You wondered if you could do it, and the Lord answered, "Yes." He provided for you all of the way, just as He promised. He said you would never want, by which He meant 'need something that you did not have'. What you needed, He provided. Wife, daughters, jobs, pastors, and most of all, His grace.
Now you are about to be charged with proclaiming that grace, and distributing it though the Sacraments, and you have everything you need. The work, after all, is not really yours. It is His. He loved you, took on human flesh and blood and human nature for you, lived for you a perfect life, died in your place on the cross, and rose from the grave - all for you. Your sins are forgiven, and He has given you everlasting life. I know that you know all of that because I spent a hunk of my life telling you, and teaching you, and reminding you, back when you were just a kid, and then a young man, then a new husband and then a new father.
Of course, I didn't do anything but speak His Word, just as you will spend your life speaking it now. I was privileged to distribute His grace in the Lord's Supper, and pour out His riches on your daughters in Holy Baptism - just as you will now be called upon to do among these precious saints of God. But Jesus did all the work. He paid the price, and He poured out His grace, and He sent His Holy Spirit. He made it work in your heart and life, and everything that was needed for His work to be done was given to me, just as it will be given - is given - to you.
You will have the joy and privilege of giving away the gift that was given to you. You will never lack the gift to give, because the Lord is your Shepherd and He promises that you will never want. You will have what you need. You have His Word. Preach it and teach it to the limits of your knowledge and understanding. He will make sure that you always have more to learn and more to share. Preach both the Law and the Gospel without holding back. You have His forgiveness. You and I both know that you will need it, and you will never want for it, but have it in abundance. So you will have plenty to share with the saints of God that He gathers around you to serve. You have His love, so you will be equipped to love the people the Lord places under your care as the seelsorger, the caretaker of souls.
He will provide, just as He always has; strength, patience, endurance, wisdom. You have the high and holy privilege of prayer, so you can bring these people before the Lord, seeking His blessings upon them, and seeking the strength and blessings that you will need. He will provide richly because He is your Shepherd, and you are one of His sheep, beloved and cherished of God. You are one of God's favorite people - that is what "chosen and elect and precious" means. Each one of God's people are among that chosen band of God's favorite people - the people of God's favor! Because your Shepherd is also the Almighty God, you cannot outrun His ability to bless and you cannot out-last His love, and you cannot escape His plan for you for blessing and for serving Him among His people. You know you cannot outrun that because you have tried.
There will always be other shepherds beckoning. There are always new programs and new ideas and new fads out there, but follow your Shepherd, and He will guide you in the ways in which you should walk, and give you everything you need to be the pastor God would have you to be. Never allow yourself to be too clever for the Word, or too busy for prayer. You are joining in service with a good man who will mentor you wisely and faithfully. That is a wonderful blessing for a young pastor. Take advantage of it while Pastor Moe is there, and listen to the people you are called to serve. But remember your Master is not the congregation, but the Lord Jesus, so keep your attention fixed on the Word of God, and sound doctrine, and do not allow yourself to be lured away from what God has called you to do.
The temptation every pastor faces is to be something more or something other than God called him to be. You are called to preach the Word of God in all its truth and purity, to teach His people the whole counsel of God, and administer the Sacraments in accord with Christ's institution of them. You will be able to do other things, too, but these are the duties that come first. You are not the social director on the Love Boat. You are not called to be a civic leader, first and foremost. You are called to be a shepherd of God's people here, and a curator of souls - the one God has placed here to give to each and every member of the flock just what they need, and just when they need it.
That sounds like a big job, and it is, but it is done primarily by applying the Word to their lives, loving them with God's kind of love, and praying for them, and with them, in all seasons. I know you have it in you, both by personal observation, and by the fact that God brought you to this day, and called you to these people. Don't forget your other call in the process, though. You are called as husband and father, and you had that call first. It doesn't outrank the call to be pastor, but it is no less important.
I told you (and Lori) once that love dies. This one love does not. The love of Jesus Christ for you and for your people is without end and without limit. Find your strength and encouragement in it. The good stuff you will proclaim to your people must be the foundation of your life and your ministry as well.
Good people of St. Johns Lutheran Church. Every word I spoke to your new pastor was meant for your ears as well. The love of God for you is beyond a full description, and just one example of how it works is the man he called to be your younger pastor. He brings with him a most remarkable family as well, as you will learn in the coming years. Love them, support them, encourage them, protect them, so that they may encourage, and support and strengthen the hands of the pastor. Remember, as I am confident you already know, that you have called a pastor - not his wife and daughters. They are a wonderful bonus, but let them find their place in your family as Pastor Horton brings you the riches of God's grace.
You have wonderful opportunity here. You get to train your pastor. He has never done this before, and so how He does what God has called him to do will be at least in part in your hands. Help him to be the best pastor he can be by helping him to do it with love and joy and peace as far as the world around you will allow him to do so. Be ready to pray with him, and start praying for him daily, right now - although I have it on good authority that some of you have already started praying for your new pastor. At the risk of sounding enthusiastic (in the religious sense): Praise the Lord! This man is called by God - He is just what you need. The Lord is your Shepherd too - and you shall not want!
I have not preached sin and the law much in this sermon. It is not because you have none. It is because I know that you know that you don't deserve this honor, being called to be the pastor, the voice and hands of God here. I didn't deserve it when I was called either, but, by the grace of God I am what I am, and by His grace you are now here and about to step into the office of the ministry. Always keep in mind that you are who you are and what you are by His gift, and His grace is abundant and beyond our deserving. And the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable!
Pastor Horton, how odd to say, and yet quite a treat for me, I know what you are made of, and so I know that you are the man for this congregation. The Lord is your Shepherd, and you will never lack anything that you need. Trixie, you are going to be a wonderful pastor's wife. I just know it. After all, the rules are, "be a good wife to a man who is called to be a pastor", and that you are! The Lord is your Shepherd, and you will never lack anything you need. Delany and Azalea, welcome to the world of the PK. You will love it, because you love the preacher, and because the Lord is your Shepherd too, and you will never lack anything that you will need. People of God, here at St. Johns Lutheran Church, the Lord is your Shepherd, and you will never lack anything you truly need.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your lives, and, because of Jesus Christ, you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord be with you, Pastor Horton.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
(Let the people say Amen)
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