Preparing For Worship – George Mason.
When your church is nearly 72 years old, you’d think we’d have done this before. You would be wrong. Although we’ve recently begun life together with the Reverend (soon to be Doctor, too) Timothy Peoples as our fifth pastor, this is the first installation service for a new pastor we have observed together.
In generations past, we just said, “welcome aboard,” and set sail with a new captain at the helm. But installation services are becoming more common in churches, and the trend is socially and spiritually salient. It gives us a chance to pause and mark the significance of the moment. It recognizes that change is a fact of life not only to be noted but embraced.
Congregations are family systems akin to families of origin. Families live together daily but also mark time and change with one another occasionally. We gather for nodal events in the life cycle: births, baptisms, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, retirements and deaths, as well as for secular and religious holidays. How we manage those special times sets a tone for life together until the next one. Likewise, churches worship weekly and sometimes specially.
The original idea of a Baptist church included the modeling of egalitarian leadership under the authority of Christ. The pastor is one of us. But in some sense, he is the most one of us. Day by day, he represents us to the larger world; over and over, he reminds us of who we are and what our mission is.
Our installation of Rev. Peoples is a formal affirmation of our vote. It ratifies the ballot. It commits us to his success by pledging our prayers and promising our support. It reminds me in this Valentine’s Day month of something similar. Love doesn’t need a wedding ceremony, but marriage does. It enacts a covenant between beloveds and with the Beloved One who called them together and binds them thereafter.
Let’s celebrate this first installment together by saying “I do.”