And then there was one

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And then there was one.

I’m counting down the number of sermons I’m going to preach in this beloved church before I leave.  After today I see one more on the calendar.  And then I’m done.  Auf Wiederluege.

I’ll say this much: it’s not easy.  There’s so much emotion.  But there’s also this: freedom, the kind of freedom that I didn’t feel at the beginning and that I’m guessing no one, not even the best of preachers, feels right away.

But I feel it now.

I should point out that the freedom I feel is not the desire to tell anyone off.  You might think that with only one more sermon to go I might feel like letting it rip.  Doesn’t everyone have a fantasy about telling someone – an employer? – what you really think and then walking out the door?

But that’s not what I’m tempted to do.  Early in my ministry – I regret it now – I got something off my chest in a sermon.  I wrote it out, calculated it, timed it, relished it – only to find out later that the person I most wanted to hear it wasn’t in the congregation that Sunday.  I never attempted such a thing again.  I’m ashamed that I even did it once.

No, the desire right now is to preach with emotional honesty.  Not that previous sermons in this church have been dishonest, but there’s always a kind of holding back.  You don’t express everything in a sermon.  You can’t.  At least I can’t.  Laughter and tears aren’t a good idea every single week.  I would wear myself out, and I know I’d wear out my congregation.

But right now, in this sweet spot between announcing my departure and leaving, I find myself wanting to say everything with transparency and honesty. It’s hard work, but it’s important.

I know I’ll never get this opportunity again.

(Photo credit: That’s me, but not my publicity photo. If you have an iPad, you know how much fun it is to explore all of the features.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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3 Responses to And then there was one

  1. Mandana Sharifi October 29, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    Dear Doug…honesty is always the best policy even if it puts you in an uncomfortable position specially if you are doing it for the right reasons…hence I wish you continued courage, wisdom and success in all you do…in Jesus name…Amen!

  2. Jeff Edwards October 29, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    Telling off those who have “done you wrong” will only etch them deeper in your head. The beauty of the “word” is being found to have solid science behind it; forgiving and moving on helps to not allow them to continue to live in your head. The problem is theirs now. The time to be a truth teller might have been during the occurance, if it wasn’t worth a confrontation then why would it be any different now? Go on your trip clear of conscience, ready to be even more open to what the spirit has in mind for you, and enjoy what you have done well in your life. And write it all down, my brother. It will be fodder for a great read. May your travel be ever blessed. At 68, I have more to do than ever before. And so may the autumn of your life. Jeff
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  3. bob sadowski October 30, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    you can always write it and I will read it for you.

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