|Pastors are to preach, catechize, administer the Sacraments, hear confession from penitent sinners and comfort the sick|
Rev. Samuel M. Boodle
Published: Jun 28, 2012
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the 12 gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” — Acts 6:1-4.
In one of my seminary classes, the book of Genesis, one was required to have studied Hebrew prior to taking the class. Yet, some seminarians registered for the class even though they had not taken Hebrew. They had only taken Greek.
Consequently, the professor divided the class into two sections, the Hebrew group and the Greek group. We who had studied Hebrew taunted the Greek guys.
They did not like being segregated into groups. As a result, they complained to the office of the registrar. Nonetheless, our professor stood his ground; Hebrew was the prerequisite.
Language barriers often cause dissension. When you have two groups speaking different languages, the dominant group will deprive the other.
In our text, we are told that strife broke out between the Grecian and the Hebraic Jews as the early church grew in size. Even though both groups were Jews, one group was given an advantage over the other. The difference was in their languages. One group spoke and read the Old Testament in Hebrew while the other could only speak and read the Old Testament in Greek.
This dispute broke out because the church was expanding. When the numbers increase, trouble sets in. Remember when we used to be a smaller country, we had far less problems. We were more united, neighborly, friendly and less violent.
Things tend to get out of hand with larger groups. The same thing happens in the church. Scripture tells us that when Abraham and Lot’s families began to grow, there was strife.
With regards to taking care of the widows, The Torah gave special attention to their care. Deuteronomy 10:18 states that the Lord, “... defends the cause of the fatherless and the widows, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”
While the disciples were not prepared to neglect the widows, they realized that the care of these people was becoming burdensome. They were not equipped to deal with both the spiritual and the administrative work of the church. Consequently, they gave it up.
In order for them to function as pastors and carry out the great commission, they had to let go of those non-pastoral functions. By doing so, they were able to concentrate on the proclamation of the Gospel.
Unlike the disciples, many pastors don’t always know when to let go. They hold on to responsibilities which can be carried out by the laity. This burdens them and creates friction in their ministry.
Moses had a situation similar to that of the disciples. His father-in-law, Jethro, while visiting him, noticed that he was spending an insurmountable amount of time dispensing justice in trivial matters. Jethro showed Moses a better way.
Scripture tells us that the dissension in the community caused the disciples to find a better way. By delegating and shedding the non-spiritual functions, they were able to do much more.
As pastors, we are to preach, catechize, administer the Sacraments, hear confession from penitent sinners, and comfort the sick. We should never allow other things to take priority over these key pastoral duties and activities. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.