Several years ago a middle-aged man came out of church on a very normal Sunday morning. He had an unusually big smile on his face, and he shook my hand profusely and said, “About seven minutes into your sermon, you said, ‘Now that’s the first part, now I want to focus on the second part.’ At that moment I realized that I needed to get on with the second part of my life, because I have just been killing time. Thank you so much for the fabulous sermon.”
One never knows what God will use to transform a life — in this case, just a mere transition sentence.
In last week’s epistle text from Ephesians, the writer encourages us to “sing our song in thanksgiving” — that is, to live into our talents, our wheelhouse, our destiny. But I’m concerned that many people finish their journey this side of heaven without ever realizing their full capacity, their intended purpose. Could it be, I shudder, to read on someone’s gravestone: “Here lies my beloved friend, whose life came to an untimely end, who struggled so hard and atrophied so long, he departed this life without singing his song.”
When former Archbishop Anselm finally began to discover his essential calling, he wrote this prayer: “O Lord, you have made me and remade me, and you have bestowed on me all the good gifts I possess, and still I am seeking my purpose. I have not yet completed that for which I was made.”
I am motivated by Anselm’s prayerful confession: “I have not yet completed that for which I was made.”
A central calling for us during this interim period is to give attention to our essential nature and purpose as a congregation — to take hold of the wonderful resources we’ve been given and put them to use, to exercise our vast talents for the sake of others, to be good stewards of time and money for the advancement of our mission, and to ready ourselves for new chapters of ministry with a new rector. The apostle wrote to the Ephesians: “Be careful how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time.”