“Stay The Course”, based on Acts 20:17-32, was preached at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk on November 7, 2010.
On his way to Jerusalem, the apostle Paul has a brief stopover in Miletus and takes the opportunity to call for the elders from nearby Ephesus.
What follows is one of the most memorable farewell accounts in all of Scripture. Paul explains to the leaders of the Ephesian church that they will never see him again (20:25). Paul is anticipating his imprisonment. Quite naturally, Paul wants to impart to these church leaders one final message of wisdom.
I think we get this. Many of you know what it is to be at the side of a loved one during their final days on earth. When our ailing loved one speaks to us, every phrase and every word takes on a special place of importance. As we attempt to say “good-bye” to our loved ones, we’re looking for them to give us a final message of inspiration.
This is how I imagine the Ephesian elders on the day when Paul called them together.
And while I can hardly compare my ministry context to Paul’s predicament, I do know what it is like for a pastor to say good-bye to a congregation having done this 6 months ago. I remember having a strong impulse to choose my final words carefully, and having a desire to convey a message to help the congregation to wade sensibly into the future.
I don’t know if it seems backwards to have your newly settled pastor talk about a farewell speech. But again, I hope you will see that Paul’s message to the Ephesian elders provides us with an excellent summary of what Christian ministry looks like, or at least, what Christian ministry should look like.
To help us track with Paul this morning, I have broken down his message into 4 parts:
1) The Task of Ministry
2) The Manner of Ministry
3) The Context of Ministry
4) The Reward of Ministry