On the installation of a pastor…
Daniel 7:9-14 - The Installation of the Reverend George Borghardt, III
In the name of Jesus. Amen. Wow! The End of the world. The seating of God's court. The earth and heavens burned up with fire. Sheep and goats separated. The Last Day is coming quickly, dear Christians. It will soon be upon us. But don't worry! Don't be frightened by these awful images of judgment. Don't worry. Because the Lord has given you a pastor. And he gives you this pastor for this purpose: that in these Last Days, you may know the comfort of Christ in whom you have escaped God's judgment and instead, as children of God, now have eternal life. Today, your Lord is making sure that you are not caught unprepared for that day. Today He makes sure that you do not fear that day as the world should fear it. Today, by giving you a pastor, the Lord is keeping His promise to preserve you in His Word and faith until the end. That's why George Borghardt, III is here today. So that you will always have that comfort against despair. Pastor Borghardt is given to you this day so that you will have the constant reminder of your Baptism into Christ. So that when your sins trouble you, he may absolve you. To preach Christ crucified and risen to you. To give to you the Body and Blood of Jesus to eat and drink. To remind you, in a world filled with false preachers who get all worked up that the End is near, that Christ is your Savior and that in Him the Last Day is a day to rejoice in.
The prophet Daniel sees the vision of the kingdom given to Christ. Christ, the Son of Man, is given a kingdom which is an everlasting dominion. It shall not pass away. It is a kingdom that shall not be destroyed. He has this kingdom because He has won this kingdom. This is the kingdom of the Son of God who became man for our salvation. The Son of Man who was tempted and was without sin. The Son of Man who nevertheless took on your sin as His own and carried it through suffering and mockery to the cross of Calvary and there disposed of it once for all by the shedding of His holy blood and His innocent death. The Son of Man who was alive on the third day whose empty tomb is the sign that death is done for. This kingdom, Christ's church, is a kingdom into which the Savior Himself has brought you at the font by the washing of water and the Word in Holy Baptism, as Pastor Borghardt will remind you and do for those to come. It is in this kingdom that the Judge and King constantly declares to you the "not guilty" verdict of Holy Absolution, spoken by His man, Pastor Borghardt. It is in this Kingdom that you hear the Son of Man's proclamation proclaimed by His herald, Pastor Borghardt, that declares that while heaven and earth pass away, you cannot pass away because you are in Christ. It is the Kingdom in which the Son of Man gives you Himself as food, faithfully administered by His servant Pastor Borghardt.
And the Good News about this Kingdom is that it is Christ's. And it cannot pass away and it cannot be destroyed. That's Good News! It's Good News for you, Pastor Borghardt. It means when you make a mistake, when you sin against the Lord and against His people, His kingdom does not cease. And because it does not cease, because it exists by His Word, your sins are forgiven in this kingdom. That's right, people of God, your pastor is a sinner who lives in the forgiveness won for Him by Christ. As do you. This is not your kingdom and it's not your church. And know that when you succumb to the temptation to think that it IS yours, that you are forgiven. Pastor Borghardt will remind you of that too. And both of you—pastor and people—when things are difficult and you are tempted to despair over this congregation—remember that this is Christ's kingdom. It cannot pass away and it cannot be destroyed. Pastor Borghardt, carry out your calling: when the saints of God despair because of their sins or their illnesses or their troubles, remind them by Christ's Word and gifts that they have a Savior whose kingdom will not pass away and will not be destroyed. And you, saints of God at Zion, when your pastor despairs, or is troubled by his faults and sins, or worries about anything, comfort him by reminding him of the same thing: He is a servant in a kingdom that will not pass away and will not be destroyed! Because this is Christ's kingdom!
Now St. Peter says the scoffers are going to come. They're going to make fun of you and ask, "Where's the Lord? I thought He was coming back? What's taking Him so long?" In other words, being a Christian in this dying world is not easy. It is hard. You are surrounded by those who mock you and mock your trust in Christ. The world around you hates Jesus and so it hates you. It can be tough to live in such a world. It raises doubts and causes despair. So when it does, then you know what to do: run to the pastor whom the Lord has given you to hear again those promises of God: your Baptism, forgiveness, body and blood, the preaching of Christ crucified. Those promises throw down the doubts and despairs and mockery of a world that doesn't want Jesus and reminds you of what you are in Christ. Those promises are your sure and certain hope against a world of doubt and unbelief. Those promises are why the Lord's pastor is here: to faithfully deliver them to you for your forgiveness and comfort. Peter reminds us that the world which will one day be destroyed is yet preserved by the Word of God. That Word, delivered by your pastor, is the Word that is your life. That Word of Christ crucified and risen for you is your life, your preservation against judgment and death and hell. Your promise of everlasting life. And your pastor will always remind you of that. It's his job.
And here is some more Good News. On the Last Day, Pastor Borghardt and saints of Zion, you will be given the kingdom forever. It's been prepared for you from the foundation of the world. It isn't given to you because you did anything. The Lord prepared it for you because you are His people in Christ. This is Good News, Pastor Borghardt because it means you are rescued from counting, measuring, and any sort of thinking that it is GEORGE BORGHARDT who can fix or preserve this congregation. It's all Christ's kingdom! And you, saints of Zion, you are rescued from thinking that it is what good works you do or don't do that make you true Christians and a true congregation of God. In fact, Pastor Borghardt and saints of Zion, on the Last Day, the Lord will list all of those good works you've done, most of which you don't even have a clue you've done! And you'll say, "What? When did we do all that?" And He will say, "You did it because you are my lambs. And because you are my lambs there's a kingdom waiting for you." Christ has won this kingdom for you. And that means nothing can tear it down, wreck it or take it away from you!
So, saints of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of McHenry, Illinois, rejoice today! Rejoice because you have a pastor. I'd love to tell you what a great guy he is, but that won't save you. What I will tell you is that he will give you the one and only thing you need: Jesus. Jesus who was crucified for you and risen from the dead. Jesus who washed you at the font. Jesus who says your sins are forgiven. Jesus whose Body and Blood are a feast that will give forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. And Pastor Borghardt, know this: those same gifts of Jesus that you give to God's people here, are the same gifts—water, word, Body and Blood—that make you fit for this holy Office and will let you stand with these saints on the Last Day, rejoicing together to see your names written in the Book of Life. On this day, saints of Zion, know this: the Lord's giving you a pastor is His unshakable promise to be among you and with you by His Word and gifts. And where He is, you can never pass away even though heaven and earth will pass away. For Christ's kingdom will not pass away and will not be destroyed! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.