September 30, 2015
Nearly everyone in this room tonight is a member of a session, because nearly everyone here is a Ruling or Teaching Elder. “Session” is our Presbyterian term for the wise council of a congregation, the regular gathering of those Jesus calls to lead and teach and serve his people, so that they learn to walk in his way and to see that way in our lives. So I challenge you, whichever your part, Ruling or Teaching, play it well, for God’s glory and for the building up of his people. If your place at the session table is only an afterthought in your busy life, an unwelcome burden to be endured until the time your term expires, then let us not be surprised when, following our lead, Jesus’ own people see his spiritual body in much the same way. Instead, let each session be a church within a church: a gathering of Jesus’ disciples who commit to practice the very habits we all say we want to see in the lives of those we hope to see in church. Let us pray for one another, and pray with one another; let us read and reflect, deeply, on the witness of scripture; let us comfort one another in times of church challenge; more important still, let us challenge one another in times of church comfort. Ruling Elders, don’t just telegraph the complaints and anxieties you hear in the parking lot. Listen to your peers, of course, but always remember that we have ordained you to seek the mind of Jesus for his church. Work with your fellow elders, not only to lead the people, but to the BE the people, the people of God. You set the tone. You have the influence, as much in the parking lot as in any pulpit. Teaching Elders, provide for the session of which you are both member and moderator. Lead them in, and submit yourself to, the kind of community we all say we want to see in our congregations. Remember that if we only manage a church’s business, we may not have time left over for the business of making disciples. But when you make disciples of Jesus, you always get the church. Let session be the church, that the church might follow suit. May it be so, because Jesus has said it will be so.
Written by Ralph W. Hawkins