Remarks to the graduates of the Seminário Nazareno em Moçambique

DSCN4909On November 28, 2015, fourteen students graduated from the Seminário Nazareno em Moçambique, located in Maputo. These were my brief remarks to them on that joyous occasion.

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Rev. Aderito Ferreira, Field Strategy Coordinator, Rev. Adolfo Tembe, Principal of the Seminário, Rev José Moiane, Chair of the Board of Trustees, district superintendents, pastors, graduates, students, family members, honored guests, all protocols observed –

We gather here today because of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul said: “In God, we live, and move, and have our being.” No matter what else is said today, may this be clear: We honor and glorify the LORD. To God be the glory, great things He has done.

But we especially pause to thank God for you, the graduates of the Class of 2015. There are other places where you could have been today, other professional schools from which you could be graduating. However, you chose the Seminário Nazareno em Moçambique. Why? You came here in obedience to God, because God called you. You spent three years pursuing your diploma not because it was something you thought it would be nice to do. Rather, because of your calling from God, it was something that you knew you must do. Like Paul, you have said: “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel!”

Earlier from Rev. Ferreira, we heard of the importance of preaching. Allow me to add to what he said so well. According to Scripture and according to the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene, another important task of the pastor besides preaching and loving the flock is to administer the sacraments. Some years ago, I was teaching a course in theology to Nazarene student pastors in West Africa. The Lord’s Supper was our topic. One student shared that in his country there were those who believed that every time a person who is “unworthy” receives the Lord’s Supper, the bread will stay lodged in the stomach until finally – when one has taken it “unworthily” too much – the stomach will be blocked and the person will die.

I’m glad that is not our belief or practice in the Church of the Nazarene. We don’t believe that taking communion should be a scary thing. Rather, it is a joyous celebration, a “means of grace,” an important way that we strengthen our faith. As pastors, I encourage you to celebrate the Lord’s Supper often with your people and also to frequently practice baptism.

Today is a day of joy. I believe that God wants to use you in amazing ways! Good things are before you. Times of fulfillment and joy in the service of the Lord await you. Think big; dream bold dreams, God-given visions, then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, make those dreams a reality. When we speak of entire sanctification, we often quote 1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “Faithful is he who called you, who also will do it.” May I suggest that this verse can also apply to your ministry in general? The one who called you is faithful and will empower you to minister.

Graduates, you made it! Well-done. Now go, preach the word, love the flock the Lord has entrusted to you, administer the sacraments, fulfill your God-given calling. We promise to encourage you as you remain faithful.

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