Will I See You Again?
28th Sunday past Pentecost
Day of Humiliation and Prayer
A Farewell Sermon
by Reverend Adrian Richard Kelly
November 26, 1967
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
The preparation for a sermon such as this is a rather interesting thing. There are, of course, so many things that I might wish to say to you today. But there just is not time to say them all. We could recount so many fond memories of how the church of God in this place has moved and grown. There are so many happy moments of our working together for the Lord which we would like to recall.
And yet, it is as though the Lord were saying, "I have given you one last opportunity to talk to My people here. What will you say to them?" A question such as this causes us to do some serious thinking. It reminds us that we had better eliminate all the gingerbread and get right to the heart of the whole matter of our relationship with God.
How I might best say this was suggested in a question asked me earlier this week by one of our loved members who is probably not known to many of you. He is a man who has been bedridden for many years, and yet one who has been used by the Lord time and again as a shining example to others, as year in and year out he bears his suffering with a cheerful, uncomplaining heart. As we neared the end of our visit, he very naturally asked, "Then I won't see you again?" Under the blessing of the Holy Spirit I would like to propose the answer to the question, WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN?
In speaking of the [evanescence -ed] of all human relationships, someone jokingly quoted the statement of one who said that life is made up of a continuous series of ends of meaningless relationships. How far from the truth this is for the Christian! For he has established a relationship with fellow Christians which is based, not on earthly things, but on a like relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is truly a loving, close relationship which we have with one another in our Lord. And yet it is true that our relationships here in this life are but a temporary thing. The ties of life are quickly broken, as the Lord calls to each in His own way. This is so evident to us here at [this church -ed]. How quickly, it seems, the Lord calls home to Himself one of our loved ones. How few of our families have not in the last five years experienced the parting with a loved one through death. How often have we, from the younger children to the senior members among us, felt the moments of regret as we have seen close friends of ours leave to take up their labor in other places. And so it must be today, for the Lord Himself guides us in all our doings. He has given to each of us the task which He wills us to perform. All His children are here that through them His name may be glorified and His work done on earth. And in His good wisdom He directs us in that work.
He has ordained that I now leave you and carry on His work in another place. I know what I had here. I do not know just what awaits me in my future field of labor. I know that you did not wish me to leave you; your love, your kindness, your friendship, were no secret. I shall surely "thank God upon every remembrance of you." [Philippians 1:3 -ed] Yet each of us must heed the Lord's call and follow in His leading. So today He calls me to serve Him in His kingdom in another sphere of service.
But even as He calls me, so He also calls each of you. For the present, He calls You to remain and serve Him in this place. Certainly by my departure He does not say, "There is no more work to do here. Rather, I will that my Kingdom be enlarged in every place where My people are gathered." Yes, each of you has work to do for the Lord here and now. It may well be that in future days He will call one or another of you to serve Him in different places and at different tasks. But for now He says, "This is where I have placed you. This is where I want you to work for Me." Will I see you again?
If God wills, we may very well see some among you again; we do not know what our future paths may be, but as our God guides and leads us, we may have the joy of meeting again. Certainly, if any of you have opportunity to visit or vacation in the area in which we will be, we invite you to come and worship with us and visit with us. But whatever our situations, we know that, wherever we are, our Lord is with all His children. We have His own promise that He will never leave us.
Yet though we must now part from one another and though we may or may not have opportunity to see one another again in this life, we do all live in the hope of seeing one another in the Life to come. For the Christian this is a sure and positive hope. The parting of Christians on earth is a "sweet sorrow,” for we know that it is but temporary. Our certain hope for eternity is based solely on Him of whom we have learned as we walked together. Even as when I came to you I, even as Paul, "determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified," so now, too, I would with all the power at my command direct you to Him who washed us from each spot and stain. Never tire of sharing with one another that humanly unbelievable, most wonderful account of God's love for sinful men. Be eager to encourage one another in the faith by fervent reminders of how our Lord rescued us from the condemnation of our sins. How important this is, for we know without doubt that it is only through childlike faith in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer that we are made righteous and can stand before our God on that day when all are called before Him.
But, beloved, we know, too, that we have need to be constantly on guard. When we came to faith in Jesus Christ sin was overpowered, yet the old Adam in us was not totally destroyed, and between the devil and our own sinful flesh we want to still rebel against our God. So it is that we need daily to repent of our sins -which are indeed many- and renew our trust in our Savior.
Especially at this time, the last Sunday of the church year, which we observe as the Day of Humiliation and Prayer, is it good for us to search our ways to see if they are good or evil. It is good that we take time for a conscientious examination of our whole life. If we do not do so there is danger of us being like some of the Jews, who were externally members of God's people, and who regularly brought their sacrifices to the temple, but of whom the Lord said, "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth…when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood." It is possible for one to boast of his Christianity and yet to be an abomination to the Lord.
Let us search our ways, for if we do not, God surely will. And as the Psalmist says, He will set our secret sins in the light of His countenance. We dare not wait until that day. We must do it now. Do we really know ourselves? Do we really know what our relation is to God?
If we find that our ways are sinful, let us as Jeremiah admonishes, "turn again to the Lord and lift our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." Yes, let us not only lift up our hands, but also our hearts. We need not fear to confess our sins to God, for we do know that He is a merciful God who forgives our sins.
Only if we do this, only if we are faithful unto death, will we receive the crown of life. Such faithfulness is impossible in our own strength; therefore, let us ask Him, the God of grace, to turn us, and we shall be turned . Then indeed will our life be one of faithfulness to our God. Then, when our last hour comes, we shall enter into the joys of eternal rest with our Lord Himself.
So, dear friends, I could have no other prayer for you, and may it be your prayer for me, than the prayer of our text; "the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." With that prayer we go our ways, to do His work, resting only on His promise, which cannot fail. Then indeed, we will see one another again!