What a celebration on Sunday! We were joined by many of Pastor Tom’s long-time ministry mentors, friends, and colleagues to celebrate, welcome him and his family, and formally charge him and the congregation to keep our eyes on Jesus together.
Richard Lints, pastor at City Life Presbyterian Church, Chestnut Hill, and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary led a particularly convicting charge to the congregation. Listen to it here.
Here’s a transcript of his words:
My name is Richard Lints, a colleague of Tom and Donna’s at Gordon Conwell Seminary. My task as an outsider is to charge you as a congregation for the events are now just gonna start, and sometimes its easier for an outsider to say hard things, so listen carefully, because part of the challenge here to charge you is for you to keep your eyes on God, not on Tom. And tom’s job, is to keep your eyes on God. I take the text this afternoon, just a couple of words out of 1 Peter 5:
Humble yourselves, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may lift you up casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you. Be sober minded, be watchful.
The simple message through all of that is to trust God. Don’t trust yourselves. Actually don’t trust Tom, except insofar as he points you to Jesus. And don’t trust the world that you live in, except as an arena to share God’s good news. Trust God. Humble yourselves, the apostle Peter says. It’s easy to think, especially if you’ve been in church a long time, to know what Church is supposed to be. But somehow, someway, you need to hear God’s word afresh, as Tom comes into the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, to be surprised by God’s grace in your life and in your soul. You need to know now it’s really important to listen, and to listen to that faithful word that Tom will preach. Encourage him, yes, as Ron reminded us. Pray for Tom and for Donna, and Marcus. There probably isn’t anything more import that you will do, than to pray for this family. For when you pray for them, you’re praying that your own heart would be soften to hear God’s word afresh. Trust God, not yourselves. Cast all your anxieties on God, in other words trust Him and not your own sense of the world you live in. There’s gonna be troubles, I guarantee there’s going to be troubles in this church. If there are no troubles in this church go find one where there is trouble. For that’s where you are more needed. But trust that God is present in the midst of the struggles. It’s far more important not to look for a perfect church, or to expect a perfect pastor, but rather understand God’s grace is sufficient in everything. To cast your anxieties on him. Trust God, in other words. Because God cares for you. And Tom’s ministry in your midst is one powerful symbol of God’s compassion on you, and for you. And finally be of a sober spirit, the Apostle says, “Be Watchful”. Trust God, in other words, knowing Tom is not the Messiah. But you will hope he is some days. Jesus is the Messiah. And Tom’s task is to point you to Jesus. And faithfulness is what you pray for Tom, that he would point you constantly to the Messiah. Don’t ask Tom to be more than he is called to be. He is called to preach, to teach, to disciple, to share God’s word: Point you to Jesus. That’s what he’s supposed to do. And so a final word of admonition: Guard the congregation here from gossip. The expectation that this church is not what it’s supposed to be. Every church is supposed to be fragile and frail. Recognize that, knowing that God is sufficient, and his grace will carry you through.
Thanks also to Sang Kim and Ken Keyes for taking these great pictures! Head over to our facebook page to see a full album