“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
In case you haven’t noticed, I have taken a bit of a hiatus from this Midweek Message. I guess it has been over a month since I last posted a message. As you may already know, there’s been a lot going on in my life: a transfer to a new denomination (from the PCUSA to PCA), finishing one pastoral call and beginning another, selling and buying a home, helping shepherd my family through the emotional roller coaster of moving, and – oh yeah – leading the church through the observance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. I didn’t intend to take four weeks off from writing this post, it just got lost in the shuffle.
It feels a little odd here in the office this week, my books are all packed, the desk is cleared off, and there only a couple days remaining before I will have officially left the PCUCA for a new call. What then do I say?
I want to say that I have been truly blessed to serve as the pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Cherokee. Over the past 9 years, this congregation has walked along side of me, helping me to become a better pastor, a more effective communicator (the last few weeks notwithstanding), and showing tremendous patience and love along the way. You have heard some sermons that would have been better had they never been preached, some prayers that went a little too long, and some jokes that forgot to be funny. My hope and prayer is that you were ultimately blessed by faithful preaching and teaching, that you will remember my time here as one of encouragement and growth, and that God would be pleased in His Church.
There is one last thing I want to leave you with. For some reason, as I write this, I keep hearing Jack Palance as Curly saying – “Just One Thing!”
Well… in the movie, Curly tells Mitch that everyone has to figure out what that “one thing” is for themselves. I get that, but if we take that to its logical end, we end up with chaos as everyone pursues that thing that makes them happy regardless of what that means to anyone else.
No, there is “One Thing” that is the greatest thing for each and every one of us, the “One Thing” we must pursue, the “One Thing” we must know. This “One Thing” is the source of our greatest joy and happiness, the foundation of our peace and security. This “One Thing” brings meaning to life, hope in the midst of despair, comfort in times of trouble. This “One Thing” is the same “One Thing” for you and for me, and has been the “One and Only Thing” yesterday, today, and forever. Have I given it away?
Here’s the One Thing – “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead… as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim 2:8). I hope that in time I will be remembered at Memorial Presbyterian as a good preacher and pastor and a loving and devoted father. I hope that my activity in the Cherokee Community Theater will be remembered well. I would like to think that I have made a lasting impression here, and that I will be remembered after I am gone.
More than all of that, though, I hope and pray that you will remember Christ, our risen Lord. I have labored to make Him known, to proclaim His Gospel, to make His grace and mercy known, to magnify His goodness, to draw all people to Him. Even if I am forgotten, even if my exploits and endeavors fade into oblivion, remember Jesus Christ.
Remember Christ. When discouraged because life is difficult and the burden is heavy: remember Christ whose “yoke is easy, and whose burden is light.” When pressured to compromise on your faith and your values in order to fit in with the world: remember Christ who has come to “bring salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” as we await His appearing (Titus 2:11-13). When you stand for your faith and feel alone in this world: remember Christ, who has promised that He would be with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
I am truly grateful for the time that I have had at Memorial Presbyterian as your pastor. I pray that God will continue to strengthen and encourage this congregation. And I hope and pray that in everything you will continue to hold fast to this One Thing – Remember Jesus Christ, Risen from the Dead!