Deacon- Bill McLean
Grace, Peace, and mercy unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
I moved out here in 2001 and before that I use to serve Immanual Lutheran Church in Kingston N.Y. a congregation on the other side of the state, we had about 300 members and had 13 assisting ministers. We had no Saturday service we had 2 services on Sunday 7 assistant ministers on the early service and 6 on the later service I served at one service in a every 6 week rotation. Easy peazy! We had plenty of help.
I came to a crossroad on my job and I had to make a tough choice. So I prayed for God`s guidance and direction so that I would make the right decision. See at my job we lost a lot of work to other terminals and I was watching a video about our terminal in Buffalo and in that moment the Holy Spirit was upon me very strong and I knew right then I was coming out here. So the next weekend I served my pastor and I told him that God was sending me to Buffalo and he said, sure he is sending you to Buffalo, sure. But the truth is 1 month later I was here and I have been here ever since.
And like any good Lutheran I started church shopping and I found Zion on the web. The first time I came here was to hear the Bells of Zion in a concert celebrating 20 years of the bells. Before I moved out here, I use to ring a great big 2000 lb. bell and that thing was my baby so I was already a bell freak. I liked Pr. Randy`s preaching you were all welcoming and I was hooked. I looked at other churches but I kept coming back to Zion and eventually became a member.
One thing I noticed right away is that on most weekends back than we had around 300 plus people coming through those doors. We had 1 pastor and 3 deacons and to say that the harvest was plentiful and the workers were few was an understatement. So I approached the Deacons at the time and said I am interested in helping, and they were very welcoming and said yea we could use the help.
So I approached Pr. Randy and asked him what would it take to be a Deacon and he explained to me that I would have to do 1 week of Deacon training or 6 one day seminars over the course of 3 years. I did the one week of Deacon training at East Aurora. Note that becoming a Deacon can only be done under the direction of a pastor.
I took the courses, I served my previous Pr. for 7 years, I was approved by the congregation council at the time, I was called and Installed and the next thing you know I was standing next to Pr. Randy at a worship service. I thought to myself, what am I doing here! I must be out of my mind! I am in way over my head! I’m a truck driver!
But when we look at Jesus who did he choose to be his disciples, fisherman, a tax collector, people just like you and me, people with a heart for God.
I did not back off. I kept praying and asking God to help me in this area and one thing I have learned about God is that he will never ask you to do something and not give you the tools to do it, he gives you the tools. That was 17 years ago.
Currently, this year I will be attending Deacon training for a week at East Aurora led by Pr. Dan Hoffman as continuing education. I attend a weekly exejesus class led by Mary Wolf and Pr. Dan Hoffman. Just a note Pr. Dan Hoffman and Pr. John Scarfia are both Doctors of Theology. As a general rule when they are talking I am writing and it has been that way for the last year. I also read two daily devotions given to me by my father and mother in law.
My father in law Pr. Donald Willman was a Lutheran Pr. of 50 years before he retired. One of the devotions is on a pastoral level and Pr. Dan Hoffman contributed to it. I know that this is not seminary but God is directing my steps.
My goal is to serve as a Conference Deacon in western N.Y. so the Dean can send me where he needs me to be and to serve at a level that I have been entrusted with today. We serve a God that is unconventional. He has a way of using us to serve out his will, and his purposes, in his timing. Again the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.
We serve a God that Loves us unconditionally, He is with us in our story, He gives us Grace, God`s undeserved love and favor, He sent us his son Jesus, the one who shares with us his teachings, the one who died on the cross and forgives us of our sins, the one who feeds us with his body and blood, the one who extends to us eternal salvation freely as a gift. On the day of Pentecost God poured out his Holy Spirit upon all of mankind and at our Baptism he fills us with his Holy Spirit, God living inside of all of us!
I can`t speak for anyone else I can only speak for myself but I know this, On the rare time I have gone against God`s will in my life, I may not necessarily have been wrong but I can tell you this much, the best outcome didn`t occur. The best outcome didn`t occur, and it`s not going to because God knows what he is doing.
Part of being people of faith is Trusting God In our Lives! Faith and Trust go hand in hand! If we are the kind of person who does everything in our own strength, God will sit back in the wings and say you`ve got this.
But you know what God really loves? When we include him in our everyday lives, not just on Sunday (Saturday), not just when we need something, but all the time. Heavenly Father help me to have a good meeting with my boss ….Heavenly Father help me to drive this big truck safely to Albany…. Heavenly Father help me to say the right thing to this person that is having a hard time.
Leaning on God all the time in our lives, he loves that. If you are not doing this already may I make a suggestion? Try it! It works! When we get in the habit of doing this it strengthens our relationship with God and when the time comes that he gives us that nudge we won`t be quick to say no but we will be more incline to say yes to his request because we have a stronger relationship with our Heavenly Father.
In Luke's gospel today Jesus appoints 70 followers and sends them ahead in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go and he said to them "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick who are there and say to them the kingdom of God has come near to you."
Jesus gives specific instructions to his followers not to carry any extra belongings. Now for us, this would be difficult because we all have lots of items. But Jesus’ reason for saying this was so that his followers of faith would not only would follow him but also trust him on the mission he was sending them out to do.
One thing I've learned about God is he will never ask you to serve and not give you the tools to do the job. He gives you the tools! The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. This was not only the case in Jesus' time, this is still true today. It would be my prayer that as God sends us out into the world, we could all serve as an extension of Jesus to the best of our abilities, to the level that God has created us to be.