Words-I-Would-Say-Sermon-SlideChange is inevitable. There’s no way of getting around it. They say that nothing is certain except death and taxes, but I think you can add “change” to that list as well. This change has come to Lanark United Methodist Church as I have been appointed to serve Epworth UMC in Elgin, Illinois. It was with a heavy heart that I made this announcement to the family within Lanark’s congregation. But it also with joyful hope because of all that we have been able to accomplish with the Spirit of the Lord guiding us.

This Sunday was the last worship service that I was able to lead for Lanark and we reminisced over the past four years, sharing memories. I thought of first baptisms, improvisational children’s time with possums, vacation bible school water fights, parades, potlucks, and many lessons I had learned while leading here.

We also talked about the teaching that was offered through the Holy Spirit. I shared with them some of the main themes in which God spoke to us. I reminded them that we need to eliminate hurry from our lives. Society tells us that we should run at a breakneck pace all the time and that if we are idle for just a moment, we are failing. But God’s message is always counter-cultural as God says to “be still and know that I am God.” We need our 15 minutes of alone time with God in study and prayer. Here is where we are filled up with the Spirit. Here is where we are able to hear God speak to us, giving us those little nudges for service.

I reminded them that they are loved and that they are forgiven. This is wonderful news, but it means more than just something for them. This also means that since they are loved and forgiven, they too should love and forgive. However, something that gets missed many times is that we need to make sure that we forgive ourselves and that we love ourselves. God calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That won’t look that good if we do a crappy job loving ourselves.

We need to follow those three simple rules as laid out by John Wesley, our founder. Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Simple but profound bits of wisdom.

Finally, I told them that God was not done with them yet. Yes, we have done some really great things during the four years that God had blessed me with this appointment, but God’s not done yet. There is so much more that God wants to do here. There’s so much more that God wants to do all over creation. So, rise up and claim that which God is proclaiming.

This message is for all of you, too! Everything that I said to Lanark UMC this past Sunday goes for all of you too. God loves you and has a plan for your life. Rise up and follow Christ. Yes, it will be a difficult road, but it will be well worth it.

Let me leave all of you with some words from the band “Sidewalk Prophets,”

“Be strong in the Lord, never give up hope. You’re going to do great things, I already know. God’s got his hand on you, so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget but don’t forget while you’re here, take your time and pray. These are the words I would say.”

Change has come, but we don’t have to be afraid, we can embrace it and follow Jesus Christ into the future. This might be goodbye, but never for too long, for we shall all be together again, soon.