Yes, retirement is coming. We are nearer now than when I announced the inevitable several years ago. That initial notice came as an attempt to try and correct the rumor that was circulating that my retirement from the Amber Church was imminent. It was instead Pastor Hal Jensen who was stepping down from the Marietta Christian Church. But this rumor made me conscious that it was time for us as a church to begin thinking seriously about our future. After all, I was retirement age then.
So in January of 2018 I began what I said would be a regular practice for several Januarys, to give a series of sermons on the topic of retirement. My texts have always been Bible characters. We began with Moses and his attempt to prepare the nation of Israel for his retirement and the new replacement, Joshua. The story is recorded in Deuteronomy 31-34. Moses was particularly concerned to hand on to his successor the Word of God which had been written down. This was the beginning of the Biblical record.
In 2019 my series of sermons picked up with Joshua, the leader who followed Moses. His retirement stories are in Joshua 23-24. His concern was to not only continue to pass along God’s written record, but to also make sure that each of the tribes and their individual members would make a personal commitment to a covenant relationship with God and with one another.
The priest, Eli, provided the retirement stories for 2020. His own weaknesses are highlighted in the Scripture passage of 1 Samuel 1-7. The need to return to the central focus of proper worship was the primary message along with the encouragement that God will always provide for his own.
King David was the next character whose retirement we spoke about in 2021. It is recorded in 1 Kings 1-2. At this point in his life his usefulness was greatly diminished by his age. It was time for a replacement. But who would it be? His sons and their supporters advanced different claims. All of
that had to be sorted out, and should have been done so much earlier. David’s retirement story is one of getting a late start to the process and concludes with a personal note to his replacement that there are a few issues that must be addressed before things can properly move ahead. David was aware that he was leaving some things unfinished and prayed that his son would do a better job than he had at following through to the end.
Last January, 2022, our retirement sermons were about Elijah. The Scripture passages were from 1 Kings 19 - 2 Kings 2. The early part of his story notes his tiredness and need for an assistant. One was provided for him, one who became his eventual replacement. Elijah like the characters before him, sought to highlight the need for all the people to maintain a proper relationship with God and to not allow themselves to be drawn away to pagan gods with their false promises. Judgment and correction were a part of his closing words to the people. To his protégé, Elisha, the lesson was simply to always walk with God.
That brings us to our retirement series for 2023 and it is on the Apostle Peter. Church history tells us that Peter was crucified by the Roman authorities; a fate that I certainly hope will not follow my retirement. But that is extra-Biblical information. Peter was able to leave “to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” a short final letter. Our text then will be 2 Peter. The letter has only three brief chapters but it provides us with his final words of instruction. He wrote his thoughts down in order to provide for the church the essential message that he lived and spoke among them. He wanted to insure that they would always have recourse to these things. I have planned five sermons from Peter’s written words. You can find the topic and the Scripture text listed below in the Worship and Education News section.
Although certainly not in the category of Peter’s writing or any Scripture inspired author, I have been working on a written record as I move another year closer to retirement from the Amber Congregational Church. Those of you who have been here for a while may recall that I wrote a brief history of our church for our 175th anniversary in 1999. 2024 marks our 200th anniversary so I decided to try and add a volume 2. This one does not attempt to revisit our founding or trace our early years. Instead, it is my record of our time together since 1984. I hope to have it completed sometime this year. It is not really about me, although everything in it is from my perspective, it is about Jesus. It is my attempt to do what Peter did, to “always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:12).
Well we have begun the search now for our next minister. Depending upon the process and the grace of God this may be my last series of January retirement sermons. The crucial thing in all of these has always been God’s message of truth revealed in the person of Jesus and our reception of it and him. This is the constant since the days of Moses through Peter and up to our own time. May Jesus continue to be praised among us.
See you in Worship.