Sunday was our current pastor’s last Sunday at our church. It’s been interesting, watching someone of that position leave, watching them transition from one place of living to another. Sunday was also the day of his last sermon, an exposition of Philippians 1:1-10. Funny enough, that was also the text that I worked with for my last chapel talk of the year.
First and last words are always interesting, probably both more and less telling than we intend them to be. The same can be said for sermons. In my chapel talk, which clocked in as shorter than usual, I was fortunate that Paul’s initial greeting to the Philippian church touched on four images and ideas that had shown up over the last year. For my out-going pastor, it was a chance to try and encourage the church in their love for one another.
As I sat there listening, I decided that the sermon would make a great “first sermon” at his next church. Because that’s kind of what leadership is: having a sense of where people need to go and shepherding them in that direction. Or, in teacher talk, it would be “understanding by design” and “planning with the end in mind.” To start that way helps people understand not just where you are starting from, but also where you hope to go. And that’s no small thing in a transient, always transitioning culture like ours today.