Our Pastor Paul is retiring. Last Sunday he gave his last official sermon. He was just back from Africa and he told us about the resiliency and gratitude of the folks from Tanzania. He told us of the tremendous hardships they have endured. He told how he asked the one of the Christian radio leaders how he kept going and going under the terrible circumstances. The radio worker replied that he stuck to three words: pray, praise and service. Pray for guidance, praise the Lord, and serve man.
The elephant in the room of course, is that this also describes Easter’s own leader, Paul himself. It could have been a sermon about himself.
The fourteen years that I have known Pastor Paul? They started with Calvin’s baptism. Pastor lifted Calvin’s little baby body high above his head at the alter–symbolically offering Calvin to the Lord, and simultaneiously scaring me to death–in that new mother sort of way.
Pray, praise, and service. Really that is the central theme of Pastor Paul’s life. When I think of service to man, I think of Paul.
I will miss his sermons. But not really–because I actually remember almost every single one and there are a dozen of which I could rewrite the outline. The sermon the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I don’t remember the year. . . well actually it was 2002. . .the catch line. . . was “heaven is not a place of leisure.” God has us here to serve. And that might put us out of our comfort zone, again, and again, and again.
He can stand up and say those works to the suburban congregation because Pastor Paul put his money where his mouth is. Most of that money and those mouths being in Tanzania.
Pastor Paul’s sermons have pushed me out of my own comfort zone more than once. Heaven is not a place of leisure. Heaven is a place of service. And it’s right here.
Pastor Paul is facing some of his own challenges with his health. So, he’s in our prayers. I remember a lecture series he gave on resiliency. I still have the notes tucked in my Bible. Pastor Paul is a resilient man. He knows all about that.
Prayer. Praise. Service. God wants us out of our comfort zone. Resiliency.
Thank you for living all those words and blessings on your retirement, Pastor Paul.