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Pastor Larry’s last sermon | REVELATION 22 (SELECTED VERSES)|LAST WORDS

September 10, 2018
Posted by Office Staff

LAST WORDS

REVELATION 22 (SELECTED VERSES)

SEPTEMBER 9, 2018

 

ON JULY 4, 1826, FORMER PRESIDENTS JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON, WHO WERE ONCE FELLOW PATRIOTS AND THEN ADVERSARIES, DIED ON THE SAME DAY WITHIN FIVE HOURS OF EACH OTHER.

 

ON THE FOURTH OF JULY!  FIFTY YEARS AFTER INDEPENDENCE DAY!  THEY WERE THE LAST SURVIVING MEMBERS OF THE ORIGINAL REVOLUTIONARIES.

 

WHILE THEY BOTH BELIEVED IN DEMOCRACY AND LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, THEIR OPINIONS ON HOW TO ACHIEVE THESE IDEALS DIVERGED OVER TIME.

 

ADAMS PRECEDED JEFFERSON IN THE PRESIDENCY; JEFFERSON WAS HIS VICE-PRESIDENT; IT WAS DURING THIS TIME THAT THEY BROKE WITH EACH OTHER, BOTH OVER THEIR PERSONAL STYLES, AND THEIR POLICIES AND BELIEFS.

 

AT ONE POINT THINGS GOT SO BAD THAT JEFFERSON ABANDONED ADAMS AND WASHINGTON, AND RETURNED TO HIS ESTATE AT MONTICELLO, TO PLOT HOW TO WIN THE PRESIDENCY IN THE NEXT ELECTION.

 

THEIR SPLIT CONTINUED FOR YEARS, BUT IN THEIR OLD AGE, BOTH EXPRESSED ADMIRATION FOR THE OTHER TO THIRD PARTIES, AND EVENTUALLY, BEGAN TO CORRESPOND WITH ONE ANOTHER, RENEWING THEIR FRIENDSHIP OVER THE LAST 14 YEARS OF THEIR LIVES.

 

WHEN THEY DIED ON THE SAME DAY, JULY 4TH, 1826, JUST FIVE HOURS APART; THEIR LAST WORDS WERE RECORDED BY THOSE WITH THEM.

 

JEFFERSON’S LAST WORDS: IS IT THE FOURTH?

ADAMS’ LAST WORDS: JEFFERSON SURVIVES!

 

HE WAS MISTAKEN IN THAT, JEFFERSON HAVING PRECEDED HIM IN DEATH JUST FIVE HOURS BEFORE.

 

FAMOUS LAST WORDS – THAT PHRASE CAN HAVE TWO VERY DISTINCT AND OPPOSITE MEANINGS.

 

THE FIRST IS, OF COURSE, AS WE’VE JUST SAID, THE FAMOUS LAST WORDS OF PEOPLE IN A LITERAL SENSE; LIKE JEFFERSON AND ADAMS.

 

THOMAS EDISON’S LAST WORDS: “IT IS VERY BEAUTIFUL OVER THERE.”

 

EMILY DICKINSON’S: “I MUST GO IN, FOR THE FOG IS LIFTING.”

AND STEVE JOBS IS QUOTED AS SAYING: WOW!  OH WOW!  WOW!  AND THIS, FROM A MAN NOT EASILY IMPRESSED.

 

THE OTHER WAY WE USE THE PHRASE FAMOUS LAST WORDS, IS AS AN IDIOM.

 

IT’S SOMETHING WE SAY THAT IS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY UNDONE OR PROVEN UNTRUE.

 

“WELL, TRAFFIC DOESN’T SEEM SO BAD ON US 1 TODAY,” ONLY TO IMMEDIATELY FIND OURSELVES AT A STANDSTILL OR IN AN HOURS-LONG ACCIDENT DELAY.

 

“IT SEEMS A LITTLE COOLER THAN USUAL,” ONLY FOR THE SUN TO COME OUT WITH SCORCHING HEAT AND HUMIDITY OFF THE SCALE.

 

“DON’T WORRY, EVERYTHING’S UNDER CONTROL.”  – HAH!

 

WHEN I WAS YOUNG I REMEMBER JOURNALISTS, NEWS PEOPLE, IN PARTICULAR, HAVING A SIGNATURE SIGN-OFF; A LAST WORD.

 

OF COURSE, THIS WAS IN THE DAY BEFORE 24 HOUR NEWS NETWORKS, WHEN TELEVISION STATIONS ACTUALLY STOPPED BROADCASTING AT MIDNIGHT.

 

THERE WAS EDWARD R. MURROW’S SIGN OFF: GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

 

PAUL HARVEY WOULD END HIS MID-DAY RADIO PROGRAM: GOOD DAY.  WHICH SEEMED HALF GOOD-BYE AND HALF WELL-WISH FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAY.

 

LINDA ELLERBE SIGNED OFF HER BROADCASTS WITH: AND, SO IT GOES…

 

AND, OF COURSE, THE MOST FAMOUS OF ALL WAS WALTER CRONKITE’S: AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS…

 

BY THE WAY, THIS WAS ALSO IN AN ERA WHEN JOURNALISTS AND NEWS PEOPLE WERE RESPECTED, TRUSTED, AND HONORED AS PART OF THE FOURTH ESTATE.

 

WHEN THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO DISCOVERING, MAINTAINING, DEFENDING, AND EVEN CHALLENGING THE TRUTH WAS VALUED.

 

A VALUE WE SHOULD GET BACK TO AS A SOCIETY.

 

LAST WORDS.

 

WITHIN THE CHURCH, AND CHRISTIANITY, THE MOST FAMOUS LAST WORDS, OF COURSE, ARE THOSE OF JESUS FROM THE CROSS.

ENTIRE SERVICES, AND SOMETIMES WEEKS OF LENTEN SERMONS ARE GIVEN OVER TO LISTENING TO, AND REFLECTING UPON, AGAIN, THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST.

 

AND WHAT WORDS THEY ARE!  A SUMMATION OF EVERYTHING JESUS BELIEVED, TAUGHT, MODELED, AND COMMANDS OF US.

 

“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO…” – FORGIVENESS.

 

“TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE…” – THE PROMISE OF LIFE EVERLASTING.

 

“WOMAN BEHOLD YOUR SON; SON, BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER…” – HANDING OFF THE CARE OF HIS BELOVED DISCIPLE TO HIS MOTHER, AND HER CARE TO HIM.

 

“MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” – THE UTTER DESOLATION JESUS FELT IN THAT MOMENT, AND YET, QUOTING PSALM 22 THAT ONLY BEGINS THAT WAY, BUT ENDS IN TRIUMPHANT PRAISE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

 

“I THIRST.” – A NOD TO HIS HUMANITY, AND THE FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY.

 

“IT IS FINISHED.” – THE END OF JESUS’ EARTHLY LIFE; BUT NOT OF HIM, NOR OF HIS SPIRIT, NOR OF HIS LIFE AS THE LIFEFORCE FOR HIS CHURCH AND HIS KINGDOM.

 

“FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT.” – RETURNING, AS WILL WE ALL, TO THE ONE WHO CREATES, SUSTAINS, AND FINISHES OUR LIVES, BEFORE BRINGING US INTO LIFE EVERMORE.

 

OF COURSE, JESUS ISN’T FINISHED SPEAKING; THE RESURRECTED CHRIST RETURNS, AND HIS FIRST WORD TO HIS DISCIPLES IS: SHALOM – PEACE BE WITH YOU.

 

HIS OTHER WORDS TO THEM, TO THE WOMEN, TO ALL HIS FOLLOWERS, INCLUDING US, ARE WORDS OF COMFORT, CARE, FORGIVENESS, AND COMMENDATION.

 

“DO NOT BE AFRAID.”

 

“FEED MY SHEEP.  TEND MY LAMBS.  FEED MY SHEEP.”

 

“DO YOU BELIEVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEN?  BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN YET BELIEVE.”

 

“FOLLOW ME.”

“GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND TEACHING THEM TO OBEY EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.

 

AND REMEMBER, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS TO THE END OF THE AGE.”

 

KAREN AND I ARE ABOUT TO NOT BE WITH YOU ANYMORE, AT LEAST IN THE PHYSICAL SENSE OF THAT WORD;

 

FOR THE TIE THAT BINDS IS NOT EASILY BROKEN, AND HAVING BEEN WITH YOU HERE, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF US; OF OUR LIFE TOGETHER; OUR HISTORY; OUR STORY.

 

YOU WILL CONTINUE IN OUR PRAYERS AND WELL-WISHES, JUST AS ALL OF THE CHURCHES, AND THOSE WITH WHOM WE HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF SERVING ELSEWHERE, HAVE BEEN, AND CONTINUE TO BE.

 

SO, DO I HAVE ANY LAST WORDS FOR US THIS MORNING?  I SUPPOSE I DO –

 

WHAT WOULD A PREACHER BE WITHOUT WORDS?!  WHAT WOULD A SERMON BE WITHOUT WORDS?!

 

IT MIGHT BE FUN TO IMAGINE, HUH?!

 

A FIRST, LAST WORD, WITH WHICH I LEAVE YOU, OF COURSE, WOULD BE THE WORD OF GOD.  BE IN GOD’S WORD.  READ, STUDY, LEARN FROM THE WORD OF GOD.

 

LIVE GOD’S WORD.  AS WE SAID LAST SUNDAY, DO GOD’S WORD.

 

WE ARE NOTHING AS BELIEVERS IF WE ARE NOT IN THE WORD OF GOD.

 

IN A TIME WHEN BIBLICAL LITERACY IS DECLINING, WITH MANY CITING THE BIBLE, AND EVEN AT THAT, DOING SO INCORRECTLY;

 

AND WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING, MUCH LESS, ACTUALLY DOING THE WORD.

 

IT’S NOT THAT THIS PERTAINS TO US IN PARTICULAR, BUT IN A DAY AND AGE WHEN MANY PRETEND AS BELIEVERS, CLAIMING THEY BELIEVE, BUT SAYING AND DOING SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT, I WOULD COMMEND TO ALL OF US, GOD’S WORD.

 

AS PART OF LEAVING GOD’S WORD WITH YOU, I ESPECIALLY LEAVE YOU WITH THE WORDS OF JESUS.

 

WORDS LIKE: LOVE, PEACE, KINDNESS, COMPASSION, CARING;

WORDS LIKE: GRACE, MERCY, AND FORGIVENESS;

 

WORDS LIKE: THE BEATITUDES, THE GOLDEN RULE, THE “THOUGH YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID, I SAY TO YOU: TURN THE OTHER CHEEK, GO THE EXTRA MILE, GIVE COAT AND CLOAK BOTH.

 

WORDS LIKE: LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.  LOVE GOD, AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.  AS YOU HAVE DONE IT UNTO THE LEAST OF THESE…  I LEAVE YOU WITH THE WORDS OF JESUS.

 

A SECOND LAST WORD WITH WHICH I LEAVE YOU IS THE WORD COMMUNITY – TRUE COMMUNITY, IN EVERY SENSE OF THE TERM.  COMMUNITY AS KEY WEST.  COMMUNITY AS PEACE COVENANT.  COMMUNITY AS A FAMILY OF FAITH.

 

YOU ARE SISTERS AND BROTHERS TO ONE ANOTHER, AND TO CHRIST JESUS.  REMEMBER THAT AND ACT ACCORDINGLY.

 

IN FACT, BE BETTER TO EACH OTHER THAN REAL BROTHERS AND SISTERS ARE AT TIMES, FOR YOU ARE SISTERS AND BROTHERS IN CHRIST!

 

GOD’S FUTURE FOR PEACE COVENANT, AND FOR YOU IN KEY WEST, IS BRIGHT.

 

WELCOME THE PARTNERSHIP TO WHICH GOD IS CALLING YOU.

 

AT THIS VERY MOMENT THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS AT WORK AMONG YOU, AND WITH THOSE SEARCHING FOR YOUR NEXT PASTOR; AND IN THOSE WHO WILL BECOME CANDIDATES FOR THIS PASTORATE.

 

SO, USE YOUR WORDS – PRAY – FOR THIS PROCESS.  BELIEVETRUST GOD’S SPIRIT TO LEAD YOU AND THIS CONGREGATION INTO THE FUTURE GOD IS PLANNING FOR YOU.

 

A THIRD LAST WORD IS TO PRACTICE WITH ONE ANOTHER, NOW, THE WORDS WE SHARE WITH THOSE WHO ARE IN HOSPICE CARE; WITH THOSE WHO NEED TO “GET RIGHT,” “TO GET CLOSURE” WITH THOSE THEY’VE KNOWN AND LOVED.

 

IN THEIR CASE, WE DO THIS WITH THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

 

IN OUR CASE, WE CAN SAY THESE WORDS, DO THESE THINGS, NOW, WHILE WE AND OTHERS STILL HAVE TIME TO LIVE IN THEM.

 

THE FIVE THINGS ARE THESE: PLEASE FORGIVE ME; I FORGIVE YOU; THANK YOU; I LOVE YOU; GOODBYE.

 

WE SHOULD BE SAYING THESE THINGS, LIVING THESE THINGS WITH EACH OTHER, NOT BECAUSE “YOU JUST NEVER KNOW” BUT PRECISELY BECAUSE WE DO KNOW;

 

AND WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT THEY ARE THE SORTS OF THINGS WE SHOULD BE EXPRESSING ALL THE TIME, NOT SIMPLY AT OUR END, OR THE END OF ANOTHER.

 

A FOURTH LAST WORD – AND, YOU JUST KNEW I COULDN’T GO WITHOUT SAYING THIS: GOD BLESS!  IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY LAST WORD; MY SIGN-OFF.

 

IT’S THE WAY IN WHICH I HAVE CLOSED OUT NEARLY EVERY NEWSLETTER MESSAGE, EVERY CORRESPONDENCE, EVERY LETTER AND EMAIL, EVERY BIRTHDAY CARD AND SYMPATHY CARD FOR THE PAST THIRTY-FIVE YEARS!

 

IT IS POSSIBLE THAT I WAS, AS KAREN HAS SUGGESTED, HAVING GROWN UP IN THAT ERA, INSPIRED BY THE LAST WORDS WITH WHICH RED SKELTON USED TO CLOSE HIS VARIETY SHOW:

 

GOOD NIGHT AND GOD BLETH…” HE WOULD SAY IN HIS THICK-TONGUED COMEDIC STYLE.

 

I ONCE WROTE ON WHY I HAVE USED GOD BLESS, ALL THESE YEARS, SO I’LL NOT REPEAT ALL OF WHAT I SAID THEN, HERE, EXCEPT FOR THE ONE ADDED MEANING I HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND IT TO MEAN.

 

SOME OF YOU WILL REMEMBER THAT I MENTIONED HOW KAREN WAS SHARING WITH ME THE MEANING OF NAMASTE –

 

A TRADITIONAL INDIAN GREETING USUALLY OFFERED TO ANOTHER BY THE FOLDING OF ONE’S HANDS IN A PRAYERFUL MANNER, AND USUALLY WITH A SLIGHT BOW TOWARD THE OTHER.

 

THOUGH ITS USES ARE MANY, VARIED, AND TODAY, WIDESPREAD – ACROSS THE WORLD – THE MEANING THAT STRUCK ME MOST AT THE TIME WAS THIS – “THE DIVINE IN ME, BOWS TO THE DIVINE IN YOU.”

 

AND SO, I SAY TO YOU – NAMASTE – GOD BLESS!

 

FINALLY, AT THE END OF HIS BOOK, CITY OF GOD, ST. AUGUSTINE WRITES THIS:

 

“I AM DONE.  WITH GOD’S HELP I HAVE KEPT MY PROMISE.

THIS, I THINK IS ALL I PROMISED TO DO WHEN I BEGAN THIS HUGE WORK.

 

FROM ALL WHO THINK THAT I HAVE SAID TOO LITTLE OR TOO MUCH, I BEG PARDON;

AND THOSE WHO ARE SATISFIED, I ASK, NOT TO THANK ME, BUT TO JOIN ME IN REJOICING AND THANKING GOD.  AMEN.”

 

AT THE CLOSE OF THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OF FULLTIME, ORDAINED CHRISTIAN MINISTRY, THIS IS HOW I FEEL.

 

I KNOW THERE ARE HERE, AND HAVE BEEN IN OTHER CHURCHES, THOSE WHO BELIEVE I DID TOO LITTLE;

 

AND OTHERS, WHO AT TIMES, THINK I SAID OR DID TOO MUCH;

 

SO, I BEG PARDON.

 

BUT, TO THOSE WHO ARE SATISFIED, AS AUGUSTINE SAYS, I ASK:

 

“NOT TO THANK ME, BUT TO JOIN ME IN REJOICING AND IN THANKING GOD.

 

AMEN.”

 

 

 

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