Saturday, July 17, 2021

Celebrating Twenty-Five Years in Holy Orders

 At the recent District Assembly of the Southwest Indiana District, in Bedford, Indiana, Bishop David Graves ordained seven elders.  Twenty-five years ago (July 17, 1996) our District Assembly was held in Evansville, Indiana.  There were some differences between the two Assemblies, for sure:  location, the length of the Assembly, full participation of the elders in the laying on of hands (this year, we are still taking some COVID cautions), and the presiding bishop (general superintendent) for that Assembly was

The Rev'd. Dr. James Diehl
Dr. James Diehl.  Another difference was that during that assembly, I was one of the candidates who knelt at the altar rail while hands were laid on me as I was ordained an elder (presbyter/priest) in the Church of God according to the Church of the Nazarene.

I was thankful that I was able to attend this year’s Assembly.  For one thing, it was just good to get together with sisters and brothers from across the district.  The sermons from Dr. Graves and the report from my district superintendent, Dr. Timothy Crump, were fantastic!  -  But, of course, I couldn’t help but reflect upon my own ordination twenty-five years earlier.

There were some familiar things that took place during that service.  Per tradition, we sang Holiness Unto the Lord as the ordinands processed in.  (I love that hymn!)  Then there was the charge given to those who would be ordained.  It was the very same charge that Dr. Diehl gave us. Of course, back then, it was pronounced over each individual as they were being ordained.  It seems that in recent years, the general superintendents have pronounced it once over all of the candidates together, prior to the individual acts of ordination.

The charge is based upon the charge that Paul gave to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4.  It has been interesting, as I have looked up videos of ordination services from other denominations, how many give a similar charge or read this passage of Scripture.  -  The charge given to us goes like this: “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ: preach the Word; watch, thou, in all things; endure afflictions; do the work on an evangelist; make full proof of thy ministry; take, thou, authority to administer the sacraments; and take, thou, responsibility in the Church of Jesus Christ” 

Every time that charge is repeated, it is renewed in the lives of those who have been ordained.  That has been the case at this year’s Assembly, as well.

I am thankful for the calling that God has placed upon my life and for the opportunity to serve in ordained ministry over these last twenty-five years.  Over those years I have had the privilege of serving as pastor to five churches: Greencastle Church of the Nazarene (where I was serving when I was ordained), Grace Church of the Nazarene (Evansville), Centenary United Methodist Church (New Albany), Heartland Church of the Nazarene (Floyds Knobs), and Main Street United Methodist Church (New Albany), where I currently serve.  -  I am thankful for the good people of God in all of these congregations; for their love and grace toward me and my family.

 I find myself, over the course of the last couple of years, being in a state of transition.  I serve the Main Street Church in a part-time situation.  And, I am thankful for the opportunity to teach at Wesley Seminary as an adjunct faculty member, as well.  However, I am seeking God’s direction for the future.  As my wife, Bobbie, says, we are in a place of waiting on the Lord.  -  In that regard, it was very good to listen, once again, the sermon Dr. Diehl preached during my ordination.  -  It was a powerful service.

Twenty-five years is a long time (as I watched the video, many of us had hair back then, and it was dark, too!), but, as long as it has been, God’s calling has not come to an end, yet.  It is my desire to be faithful in ministry to the end . . . to the glory of God!   -  For the last few years, I have looked at the possibility of planting a church.  Perhaps, that is what God is leading me to at this time.  -  Time will tell!  In whatever the future may hold in terms of ministry, may God receive all glory and honor and praise! 

Thank you, Lord, for your call into Christian ministry and for my ordination twenty-five years ago!  Thank you for giving me a wonderful wife who has been a faithful ministry partner!  Thank you that you have promised to be with us to the end!  In all things, may God be glorified!

(Yeah, I know, what a difference twenty-five years makes!)

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