Summary: This was my last sermon with SCC closing out a 12 year ministry with them.
AM Sermon preached at Syria Christian Church January 30, 2005
Famous Last Words: Follow Paul’s Advice
[SHOW SLIDE WITH WATER JUGS DURING COMMUNION----TITLE SLIDE DURING OFFERING]
In 2 Timothy 4, verses 6-8 we read what many believe are Paul’s most famous last words----
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Ah famous last words. I used an internet search engine and in a couple of minutes found I could access nearly 400,000 websites that had sections devoted to famous last words. At 30 seconds per site it would have taken me ten weeks to see them all. I wasn’t up to that challenge but I did check out about 10 websites. One website had a humorous list of what might prove to be someone’s last words----
among their list of dozens of famous last words----were these:
[SLIDE] Don’t worry I never get lost.
[SLIDE] It tastes okay to me.
[SLIDE] I see baby bear. I wonder where momma bear’s at?
[SLIDE] Nice Doggie.
[SLIDE] Hmmmm. That’s odd.
As clever as that website’s list was I found I was much more entertained and intrigued by last words actually spoken by real people. For example----
[SLIDE] That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.
~~ Lou Costello, comedian, d. March 3, 1959
[SLIDE] They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist. . . .
Killed in battle during US Civil War.
~~ General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, d. 1864
And one of my personal favorites on the lighter side---
[SLIDE] Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
~~ Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900
Today I close the books on my ministry with Syria, Siree, Sorry----oh you know what I mean---12 and one half years and as much as I love you guys I still struggle with calling a church "Sorry." As I thought about what I would say to you this morning I found myself digging through the scriptures looking at many of the closing statements the Apostle Paul made in his letters. And in this last sermon I’ve chosen to combine some of Paul’s thoughts with my own. There are many things I hope this church will do or continue doing after my departure but I made myself limit the number of things I’d share with you today to seven.
[SLIDE WITH 1ST SERMON POINT]
The first is this. I want to encourage you to receive my replacement with open hearts and open arms. I can almost imagine some thinking well of course I’ll do that---Darren doesn’t need to tell me to do that. Truly folks I hope none of you feels insulted by this request. I just make it because I know some of the realities of ministry. I remember seeing problems with minister attachment as a youth minister---when the preacher of seven years left some of the people he was closest too never gave the next guy a chance. I’m confident that some people who were very fond of Terry Kemp never gave Larry Richardson a chance. And I know that there were some people very close to Larry Richardson who never gave me a chance. I also know that more times than not a long ministry is followed by a short ministry. In fact the guy who follows a long term preacher is often labeled "a sacrificial lamb" in ministry magazines. But it doesn’t have to be that way. More than likely you’re the ones who will make or break the next minister having a long tenure.
I find in scripture that Paul encouraged the churches and individuals he worked with and loved to have open hearts and arms.
[SLIDE] In Philemon 17 Paul wrote--- So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.
[SLIDE] In Colossians 4:10 Paul writes: My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.}
And writing about Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:29 [SLIDE] Paul encourages the church at Philippi--- Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,
Now on top of all that’s been said, I’d add that short ministries are usually hard on churches. I want things to go well with you and so I encourage you to welcome my replacement with open hearts and open arms.