From time to time, all ministers muse over what they would say in their final sermon. When I announced that I was leaving a few people asked me what I was going going to say. I think some thought that I would use the opportunity to “let ’em have it.” But I didn’t. I had always figured I’d leave gracefully with a little class.
I stood at the pulpit on my last Sunday and looked at the people one last time. I’d seen some of them at earlier times when they lay in hospital beds. I’d seen them at funerals. I’d been to their homes at crises. I’d eaten dinner with them. I’d been in frustrating meetings with them. We had worked together to clean or repair the facilities. We had fed hungry people together. I’d seen them laugh and cry. I’d seen them in pain and joy.
I don’t remember what I said that day. But I remember I was proud we’d done good work together, that it had been an honor the share the significant moments of their lives, and that I loved them.
And I remember that they clapped when I was done. Many of them stood.