Summary: Using the movie, The Bucket List, as a platform for setting our priorities in life and living by them.
[Give everybody a yellow pad of paper to take notes, and collect the pads in buckets at the end of the service. Have people put their bucket list in buckets anonymously so we can read them over the next few weeks.]
Setting Priorities in Life -- What Really Matters -- Living Life on Purpose
Several months ago we rented the movie "The Bucket List" starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Jack Nicholson plays an uncaring multi-millionaire named Edward, who has everything money can buy and Morgan Freeman plays Carter, a humble and very knowledgeable mechanic. These perfect strangers meet as patients in a hospital room (actually its Edward’s hospital) where they both discover they have cancer and have only a year to live.
We’re going to do something a little different this morning, we are going to watch a clip from "The Bucket List." [Show clip of Edward discovering and discussing Carter’s "Bucket List" ]
The Bucket List is a list of all the things to do before you..."kick the bucket." These two men decide with only a year left to live they aren’t going to let their cancer hold them back from following their dreams. So Carter heads off with Edward in his private plane as they begin living out what they think are their dreams and life goals, much to the chagrin of Carter’s wife and family. I don’t think I’m ruining the movie for you if you haven’t seen it, but throughout their journey they begin to discover what’s really important in life, and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not about going halfway around the world to see wonders of the world or live in luxury. They discover it has more to do with faith and relationships; family and friends.
I felt the idea behind this movie is a perfect launching point for the New Year because the New Year tends to be a time when we think about our life as we reflect back on the past year and the things we did or didn’t do, the happy moments, the regrets, the disappointments. And then we look at the New Year as a fresh start, a chance to change things and do better this year. Some of us even make New Year’s resolutions. A resolution goes something like, "I resolve that over the next year I am going to...eat less ice cream, or something like that." So I have the top ten resolutions Americans have for the New Year:
Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions
10. Be more spiritual
9. Get out of debt
8. Be more organized
7. Spend less time on the internet (this probably used to be television)
6. Spend more time with family (I wonder if those two are connected)
5. Be a better person
4. Quit drinking
3. Quit smoking
1. [And you can guess what the #1 is] Lose weight
Resolutions are one thing, but a Bucket List is different, it’s a bigger idea because it is more than just what I want to change, do better, or differently over the next year. The Bucket List is looking back at the end of your life and asking; what would you like to have accomplished before you leave this earth? Supposing you have only a year left to live, what regrets would you have if they weren’t done before you die? What things have you left undone? I can imagine some peoples lists would be like Edwards and Carters: kiss the prettiest girl in the world, make a million dollars, skydiving, and maybe drive a favorite car model. Those may sound like pretty fun things to do, but I’m going to challenge you to begin creating a bucket list for yourself based not just on what you want to do, or what would be fun or exciting, that was the problem Edward and Carter ran into, but prayerfully create a list of things that are really going to really matter at the end of our life.
To help you with this you have received two pieces of yellow paper this morning. These are for you to begin thinking about and writing down your bucket list. I certainly don’t expect you to finish it this morning, but this is to help you get started. One sheet is for you to take with you, and the other sheet is for you to jot a couple of the items from your list (anonymously, you don’t need to write your name) and drop it in one of the buckets you see around the sanctuary. You can do this during communion or at the end of the service. And then over the course of the next few Sundays I will share some of these bucket lists.
Why a Bucket List?
You might be thinking, why a bucket list? Isn’t this rather depressing? Why would we want to talk about our death or kicking the bucket? Shouldn’t we be focusing on more positive things? It’s interesting that even Christians don’t like thinking about how short their life is. Yet in our passage this morning, listen to what David wrote in Psalm 39, he actually asked God to remind him how brief his time is on earth: Psalm 39:4 "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. 5 My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath."