Yesterday, Rev. Dr. Deirdre Brower-Latz preached at Central Church. I was not present in the building, instead, I was an on-line worshipper. But even via the internet, Dr. Brower-Latz message came through loud and clear. She did not disappoint. It was a powerful sermon. In it, she talked about a Jordanian pastor, Raja, who went to Lebanon. He was a great pastor who followed Jesus’ call. She asked us to do the same. What she didn’t tell is that Raja died tragically and five years later his widow married the best man in Karla’s and my wedding. But that’s not what captured my attention. (By the way, Dr. Brower-Latz wasn’t exaggerating. Raja was a great pastor and his widow, Seta, is a great lady).
In yesterday’s sermon, Dr. Brower-Latz asked, “If you were to preach your last sermon, what would it be?”
Probably most folks just heard her say it and moved on. Most folks listening are not preachers. I am. It’s what I do. She captured my imagination. So, I thought long and hard about that question. It’s a good one. What would I preach, if I knew shortly after sermonizing, I would kick the bucket? What is the most important thing that I could say?
I must have some Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf in me. Zinzendorf, the founder of the Moravians, was also a pioneer in modern missions. It was Moravian missionaries that played a role in John Wesley’s sanctification experience as he crossed the Atlantic on a ship. Zinzendorf reportedly said, “Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.” In other words, it’s not about the preacher. Zinzendorf would be shocked by preachers today who ‘build platforms,” are known as “celebrity preachers,” and are living a lifestyle of the rich and famous. Zinzendorf would be outraged by preachers who make it all about themselves or build megachurches based on their personality. It’s all about Jesus. “Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.”
With that in mind, here’s my last sermon title: Forget me. Remember Jesus. When people look back on my life, I don’t want them to mention sermons preached, books and articles written or anything else. I want them to say, “Rob Prince modelled his life after Jesus. The decisions made, sermons preached and life’s purpose reflected Jesus.”
Have I done that perfectly? Of course not. Neither have you. There have been plenty of mistakes along the way and more to come (should I not croak following this posting). But I don’t ever want my preaching or life to be about me. I want it to be about Jesus. Forget me. Remember Jesus.