Someone left in my office a digital countdown clock to the day of my retirement. As I am writing this essay, I have 110 days, 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 52 seconds left.
So I must not squander my precious time. I have only so many more opportunities to preach, teach, and enjoy being with you.
Over the years I have preached on a wide variety of Bible passages. I have taught classes on everything from the Byzantine Empire to plant- based nutrition and cooking.
But it is probably true that most pastors have a few favorite themes they return to over and over. My top two are the unity and interconnectedness of all things and the power of God inside us to do far more than we think we can.
I remain convinced that the deeper I try to contemplate the wisdom of God, the clear message that comes to me is this: We are all in this together. There is really no us and them. It is only us. The whole earth and even the Universe is intricately interconnected and inter- dependent.
Tribalism is real, but it is ultimately an illusion that makes us feel special or separate in a world where we are small parts of a vast mysterious beautiful whole. To meditate on unity is to see the grandeur of God and the sin of war, factions, and the numerous ways we divide and separate. Yes, we have to live and survive in the real world, and the real world is made of competing nations and tribes, but to see the Big Picture draws us closer to how God wishes the world would interact.
My other favorite theme is inner strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Maybe not all things but certainly more than we could ever ask or imagine, to use the sublime words from Ephesians Chapter 3.
From a secular point of view, you might call it human potential or the power of positive thinking. But the truth is that our beings — mind, body, heart, and soul — are amazingly strong and resilient, and when we can trust God to fill us with that Holy strength, amazing things happen. Beautiful things. Inspirational things. We stand on wind swept cliffs and are filled with lightning.
More to come, but not too much more!