In Theory:

Imagine your farewell message

August 08, 2008

The late professor Randy Pausch inspired millions with his farewell lecture at Carnegie Mellon University as he earnestly and amusingly encouraged us to “do great things.” If you could imagine your last sermon or lecture, what message would you most want to convey?

Since Solomon is credited with surpassing wisdom, I would take leave of my congregation with his most powerful insight: This Too Shall Pass.

How vital is this message as we navigate both the calm and turbulent waters that transport us through life.

When we experience a surfeit of conceit, imagining ourselves to be indispensable, reveling in our successes, ascribing our achievements to our own ingenuity and strength, this message tempers our arrogance, pokes holes in our inflated sense of self and levels our vainglory.


And when we walk in the valley of the shadow, when frustration and failure abound, when doubts and fears multiply, this teaching lifts us with the reminder that the yesterday need not dominate today and that the future can be brighter than the present.

Life is not all one thing or another. We rise, only to plummet; we fall, only to ascend. We are bidden to not become too comfortable when the sun shines, nor too oppressed when it is eclipsed. Only God is forever.

This Too Shall Pass. So, while life is lent to us, let us live!

Rabbi Mark Miller

Temple Bat Yahm

Newport Beach

My “last sermon” will be about God, from whom we have come and to whom we are returning.

With Matthew 25:31-46 as my text I would say how Jesus makes crystal clear that a great deal hangs on our doing good with those who are less blessed than we are, those who are hungry or unwell or oppressed or alienated. I would confess how sometimes I have loved and done good, but at other times I have “passed by on the other side” like the priest in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan.

When I stand before God’s judgment it will be foolish to list what I’ve done right because God knows all I’ve done wrong or to say, “I did my best” because God knows better. I will cry, “Lord, have mercy!” and hope to hear, “Peter of too little faith, why did you doubt and fear?” and then feel the strength of God’s graceful embrace.

The Very Rev’d Canon Peter D. Haynes

Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church

Corona del Mar

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