The web is a wondrous place filled with heart-touching stories, smut, and incredible information. A few days ago I came across what is evidently a lecture series at Carnegie Mellon University called “The Last Lecture.” In it, professors are invited to give an open lecture, imagining that it was the last chance they would ever get to talk to the students of the university. It became a way to talk about what the professors see as really important.
For one of the professors, Randy Pausch, it was more than just an exercise. One month before his lecture, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with a prognosis of just a few months to live. His topic is achieving one’s childhood dreams. You can watch it here.
Since seeing his video, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would say in a final sermon. At this point, I have to admit that my final sermon would not be very original. The title would likely be "Free Floaties for All" and would come from Spencer Burke’s book, The Heretic’s Guide to Eternity. He tells a story of standing on the beach one day with his 5 year old son watching huge waves roll in. The son turned to him and said something to the effect of, “Dad, I love you. I love you so much that if we were out there in the ocean and we knew that we were going to drown and we had one floatie… I’d give it to you.” That story forms the foundation of his theology… and it is a good one. He says that the basic premise of Christianity is that God gives us all free floaties. Period. There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s love and nothing we can do to separate ourselves from that love. That would pretty much be the content of my “last” sermon, the one that included everything that I wanted to be sure I said before it was too late.
So, if you had one final opportunity to tell the folk around you, the folk whom you love the one thing you think is most important, what would it be?