I was having my weekly “Bob Hepp” special with the good folks at the Rising Sun Clubhouse last Wednesday when the TV went on and the white smoke signaling another papal election blew across the screen. There we sat captivated, waiting for the “new guy” to make his debut.
I had to leave before the pomp and ceremony concluded, but that didn’t stop me from checking in later to find out who the chosen one was (Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergogli of Argentina).
Now why should I be interested in this election?
First, I’m not a Roman Catholic, but being a Lutheran (some call us “Evangelical Catholics”) we share a common ancestry. In fact, just as Jesus was Jewish (not Christian), our “founder,” Martin Luther, was a Roman Catholic priest and never did like the label “Lutheran.”
Second, I consider the people of the Roman Catholic Church my brothers and sisters in Christ. We all belong to the “catholic” (universal) Church; what we commonly refer to as the “body of Christ.” When they suffer we suffer and when they rejoice we are called to rejoice with them.
Third, I know what it’s like to be the runner-up and I know what it’s like to be chosen as a leader in the church. In October of 2011 I began ministry at Trinity as their interim pastor. I was the “fill-in” guy until they got a “real” pastor. On January 27, 2013 I was called to be the “real” deal and on Sunday, April 7 at 7 pm you are invited to my installation as pastor (not quite the papal ceremony).
Being a pastor (the word actually means “shepherd’) is tough stuff. Pope Francis, Father Chris, Father Mike, Reverend Beatrix, Pastors Paul, Norm, Rob, Jerry, William, Dave, Fred, Mitch, Dana, Tom, Len, Jonathan, Matt, Ricky, Marty and myself are all called to follow the Good Shepherd who next week we will remember sacrificed his life on the cross that we might all experience God’s amazing love.
That’s a hard act to follow for us as pastors and it is the very reason why there is only one Good Shepherd. The rest of us are simply understudies, constantly practicing how to live and share the costly grace of the Good Shepherd.
This week I invite you to join me in praying for Pope Francis and all pastors, priests and ministers that they will be shining reflections of the Good Shepherd.
I would also remind you that behind the titles and garb are sinful and ordinary people like Jorge Mario Bergogli and Timothy Brian Graff, people like yourself, who have been redeemed by our Saviour.
– Pastor Tim Graff (Article published in the Ponoka News)