Our Bucket List
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Spring Forward with One Mission Commitment Sunday
There is a good chance that virtually no one here today is familiar with the name Justin Zackham. And, yet, many of us use a phrase with some regularity that started with him.
In the 1990s, Zackham was an obscure writer who lived in Los Angeles. During those days, he created a list for himself that he titled “Justin’s list of things to do before I kick the bucket”. This was a list of personal priorities – things that Justin Zackham wanted to accomplish before he died. Number one on his list was the idea of writing a screen play that would become a major motion picture. Because the title of his list “Justin’s list of things to do before I kick the bucket” was rather long and cumbersome, he shorted the title and simply called it his “bucket list”. (“Bucket List” and “The Bucket List” at wikipedia.com)
Over time, Justin’s phrase “bucket list” caught on with folks and by 2012 was included in both Webster’s Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary as a common way of describing a list of priorities one has of the things they want to do before life comes to an end. And, it is a phrase that you, like me, have likely used. I have bucket lists and you probably do too. One of my bucket lists is to see all four of the major tournaments in professional golf. I have been to three – The Masters, The US Open and The PGA Championship. One day, I am going to go to The British Open. Its on my bucket list. Your bucket list may be a list of places you want to go on vacation, things you want to accomplish with your children, a list of books you want to read or even things you want to accomplish in your life of faith. Some of these lists, are things we want to do before we die. Others are just lists of things we want to do during a particular season in our lives. Either way, these bucket lists are ways of goal setting, prioritizing and creating sense of a direction.
This morning, we are affirming through our commitments, our First Baptist Bucket list. It is not a list of the only four things we want to accomplish over the remaining history of our church. But, for this season, for now, at this time – these are our four big priorities. Is this all we will do? Is this all that is important? No. Shouldn’t we be doing other things too? Yes, and, we will. But today we are creating a trajectory and a direction. We have a focus. Today, we are affirming our goals and our plans to carry them out. As we do, let us be clear about two important things. First, this is not just about renovating old and worn out space in our buildings. This is about creating a setting for ministry to take place. And, this is about taking care of the foundational elements that help us to live out our mission to both our own people but also to our community and to the world.
Second, this is not just a practical exercise this is a spiritual exercise. This is a concrete way that we emphasize God’s place in our life by saying that God’s priorities, and the church’s priorities should be our priorities. This doesn’t mean that we don’t still have personal priorities and it doesn’t mean that both can’t be accomplished. They certainly can. But it does mean that we are, as Luke says, seeking first the kingdom.
It is also an act that reminds us that as people of faith we must continue to seek first the kingdom in all areas of our lives by being intentional and directed. We must ask what it is that God wants us as individuals to focus on at this time. And, we must ask what it will take for us to accomplish our goals. Through this act we are reminded that we as people should not only have personal bucket lists but also faith bucket lists just as our church should. We need direction. We need a goal. Otherwise we live directionless.
Along the way, we must also realize that we will be tempted to get off course. Other things will demand our attention. We will find other uses for our money. We will question our priorities. And, at times, we may need to make changes and there may be good reasons to do so. But, our first priority, our first goal will be to keep this bucket list in front of us, to do our part and to remain determined to do that which we believe God has put in front of us.
Back to Justin Zackham for a moment and his list of things to do before he kicked the bucket. Do you remember that I said that first on his list was writing a screen play that would become a major motion picture? Well, he did it. He eventually decided that the idea of having a bucket list was also a good idea for a movie script. It was his own personal life experience that gave us the movie staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman about two men dying, who made a list of things to do before they died. The movie was indeed called The Bucket List.
Zachham made a list, set priorities and threw his energies behind accomplishing them. God has guided our creation of the First Baptist bucket list. And now, it is time to get to work. Amen.