I preached the last sermon tonight.
Not for my congregation. I’m on a Wednesday night rotation until Easter, so I’m visiting other churches once a week. But tonight was the last sermon at this particular congregation – and other than my own, it’s the one I’m closest to. As people filed out tonight after worship and shook my hand, a few dozen said, “We’re going to miss you. God’s blessings on where you’re going.”
And I said goodbye tonight to a number of people I love. I may see them again around town – I’m still not leaving for a number of weeks – but I won’t likely see them in my position as pastor.
So tonight I preached my last sermon. And… I pointed to Christ. I didn’t point out it was my last visit. I didn’t point out that this was my farewell. Because it’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. I don’t care if they’re sad I’m going. I care that they’re connected to Christ.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I do love them. And I want that love returned. If I was quickly forgotten.. I don’t think I have the good grace of John the Baptist to say, “He must increase, I must decrease.” I still have too much of the narcissist inside me that wants to be remembered well.
But… I want to be remembered this way: As a man who pointed to Christ. Not to self. Not to church. Not to tradition.
I planned out my last service in my congregation today. The last service serving this group of people. My last chance to speak in front of people that I love so, so dearly. What do I do? Do I plan out a “normal” service to stress that nothing changes? Do I honor those who will be sad by tackling my leaving directly? Do I pick my favorite hymns, or nondescript songs to match the theme of the day, or…?
My church uses a three-year cycle for Scripture readings in worship. I looked up what we were supposed to use that day… and found that one of the readings is Peter reciting what he preached. Christ crucified. Christ risen. Forgiveness of sins.
So my last week will explicitly focus on what the focus of worship is: Jesus. It’s about what Jesus has done. Always. And even after I go, it must be what the center of worship is. And for the next pastor. And the pastor after that. And the pastor after that.
And I am merely one more link in a chain of people pointing to Christ.
And that is the focus of my last Sunday here. And off I go to be another link in another chain. And I’m ok with that.
Not forgotten. Not derided. Simply… a man who points to Christ.
All the other details? Go ahead forget them. Let me point to Jesus. He’s the one you need, anyway. Certainly not me!
So as I say goodbye… let me point you to Christ, one last time.