Jun 24, 2018

“A Goodbye” 6-24-18

I Samuel 20:24-42
June 24, 2018

This will be the last sermon I will preach to you from I Samuel.  When I chose I Samuel as our OT book to preach from for a while, I obviously did not plan well as I have not been able to finish.  We do find ourselves at an ending point though.  This passage marks the end of David’s relationship with the kingdom of Israel as long as Saul would reign.  It also marks a change in the relationship between Jonathan and David.
The last time we looked at I Samuel, in chapter 20, Jonathon the son of Saul and Michal, the daughter of Saul and wife of David were acting as mediators trying to keep David and Saul on friendly terms and trying most of all to keep Saul from killing David.  Their efforts had allowed him to escape to Ramah, where he was protected by Samuel and the Holy Spirit. 
Now Saul has returned to his residence, and he seems to expect David back at the royal residence for a feast as part of his leadership of the army.  David is afraid to go, because he thinks that Saul will try to kill him again.
Jonathon thinks that if Saul still wanted to kill David, he would have told Jonathon.  So they worked out a plan.  David will intentionally miss the first two days of the feast and when Saul asks where David is, Jonathon will tell him that David asked Jonathon to excuse him so he could have a sacrificial meal with his brothers.  If Saul is OK with that, then David will return, but if Saul is angry about David’s absence, then they will take that as a sign that Saul still wants to kill David, and they prearranged a signal if that is the case.
Jonathon is to go to a field where David his hiding.  Jonathon will go there under the pretense of Archery practice.  He will have a boy with him to fetch the arrows.  If he shoots the arrows between himself and the boy, David will know that Saul does not want to kill him, and will come out of hiding. But if Jonathon shoots the arrows beyond the boy, it will be a sign that Saul does want to kill David and David should stay in hiding.  This signaling was being done in case Saul was having Jonathon watched.
So, Jonathon went to the feast with Saul to see what his reaction would be to David’s absence.  It did not go well.  On the second day of the feast, Saul asked Jonathon where David was.  Jonathon explained that David had a family obligation and Saul kind of went crazy.  He ranted against Jonathon’s supposed betrayal and blamed his mother for bearing him such a son, and blamed him for being an embarrassment to his mom.
Jonathon was so angry and hurt that he did not eat that day. 
Then he went out to the field to warn David.  He carried out the plan they had by shooting the arrows beyond the boy.  But he seemed certain that he was not being observed, so after the boy retrieved the arrows and left, Jonathan and David had a meeting to say their goodbyes.  David would be hiding from Saul for the rest of Jonathon’s life.
So David came out of hiding and bowed down before Jonathan 3 times as a sign of respect for the son of the king and as a sign of love for his best friend. 
And they said their goodbyes.  Jonathon had to return to his position at his father’s side in the kingdom and in battles.  And David had to flee for his life.
So they spent a few moments together to wish each other well and they took a vow before the Lord. 
Jonathon sent David off in peace.  His father wanted to kill David, but Jonathan wanted nothing but peace for David.  And they promised before God that whatever differences the future might bring before them, that they would always have God in common.  They had a common faith, and a command from God to always be at peace with each other and strive to preserve each other’s peace and the peace of their descendants to each other.  As long as God ruled the earth, David’s family and Jonathon’s family would always be at peace.  And then David took off, because Johnathon’s father, the king, wanted to kill David.
A while ago, I announced my retirement, and I have to tell you, things have not gone entirely the way I thought they would when I made that announcement.
It was my plan, that upon my announcement, the congregation would elect a pastor nominating committee who would have several months to find a new pastor who would begin his work the day after I ended mine.  As I stand before you, that plan has not worked.  The congregation did appoint a Pastor Search Committee.  That committee has worked hard screening candidates and interviewing some.  Twice they had a candidate they thought would be the next installed pastor.  And twice, the candidates chose to go elsewhere.
Now the only reason I can come up with that the next called pastor is not ready to begin as I finish, is that the person God has chosen to be the next called pastor of this congregation is not free to do so yet.  When that person is available, our committee will find them, and they will come. 
In the meantime, I have to say that I am not at all disappointed in the transitional pastor who will begin as I end.  When it became obvious that the Lord was not ready to supply the next called pastor, I spoke to my friend Rev. Bill Rasch, who told me that Rev. Paul Copeland would be looking for a new position and would be free to start in July.
Now, I know Paul, and a few other folks who serve congregations in our presbytery as Transitional Pastors, and when I was asked who I might recommend, I Immediately thought of two names.  And Paul was way out in front of the other.
Since I have chosen to retire, I am pleased to recommend Paul to you.  And I am pleased to recommend you to him.
But while I am happy to see Paul Copeland come here, this situation does complicate things somewhat.  Moving into retirement can be a complicated thing for Pastors.  If he is to remain in the vicinity, as I plan to do, he has to figure out how to relate to the new pastor of the congregation and to the congregation as a non-pastor.  With a Transitional pastor coming, I need to relate to him, and then figure out the whole thing again when the new called pastor arrives.  So, my future relationship with this congregation might take longer to evolve than I thought it might. 
So, like David, I need to be away for a while.  Diane may be able to be more visible around here than I for a little while.  Those of you who wish to continue your friendship with me are free to do so and I hope you will, and you know where I live and you know my phone #s and my home e-mail address.  Feel free to contact me.  But I will not be your pastor, and I will not talk about this church or its leadership or congregation with you.  Paul will be free to handle those subjects.
I am sorry I am unable to continue to preach through I Samuel, but I do encourage you to read the rest of the chapters.  And if you do, you will find that Jonathon and David did find a way to continue their friendship.  If you look at chapter 23, verses 15-18, you will see that Jonathon visited David at Horesh in the wilderness of Ziph and strengthened his hand through the Lord.  You and I can meet, and we can pray together and comfort each other, I just cannot be your pastor any longer. 
But, as with David and Jonathon, so with us, God is with all of us, and as he has guided us together for these 10 years, he will continue to guide us; me as your former pastor and you as my former congregation.  We trust in him to guide us together or apart.
Now the really funny thing about this farewell sermon is that I will still be your pastor for one more week.  I get to lead Worship one more time as your Pastor next week, when we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together one last time as Pastor and congregation.


Pastor David Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906