This morning, I was privileged to speak at the Kiwannis Club's Annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast in San Clemente. Here is a manuscript of my remarks...
Mr. Mayor, City Council, members of Kiwannis, fellow San Clementeans, thank you for the privilege of being your keynote speaker this morning.
Allow me a pastoral shout-out to my friends from San Clemente Presbyterian Church. That Community of faith has certainly taught me what it means to be good friends, neighbors and civic leaders. They really are a Community for the community.
Will you also let me acknowledge the presence of my good friend, my cycling buddy, a member of my church, a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and the commanding officer of the 2 Battalion/ 5th Marines, preparing to leave next month for yet another tour of duty abroad, Lt. Col. Todd Eckloff.
While I am extending thanks, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the pastors’ fellowship in this town that is so remarkably generous, gracious and hospitable. They know, far more than the Kiwanians or Council Members that I am the least worthy candidate to be giving this address this morning. Because of my schedule and duties, I am almost never able to participate in their gatherings and planning sessions, yet I am always, always welcomed with open arms and full support whenever I am able to join with them. Can I also just mention the tremendous leadership and service that is consistently offered to all of us from Pastor Ron Sukut. Ron was the very first pastor in this town to welcome me to San Clemente Presbyterian almost 11 years ago, he was hands-on involved around the clock partnering with our church’s relief efforts during the wildfires last fall, and he continues to communicate, pray, serve and bless humbly and generously. Ron, you truly are the pastor of this town.
It is also a privilege to join with you in thanking God for the blessings of living in this town. And indeed, like most of you I am sure, I consider it one of God’s greatest joys of in my life.
Last week I had the privilege of hosting and spending time with the wife of the Bishop of Durham of the Church of England. She spent nearly a week here in San Clemente and Dana Point and just loved it. When we were driving down the coast to go pick up the Bishop at the airport, she looked out the window at the sun glistening on the ocean and this women who has traveled the world, lived all over the world, lunched with the Queen and hosted dignitaries said to me, “If anybody lived here, I would guess they would never leave.” To which I replied, “If they can help it, mostly they don’t.”
When a pastor moves to a new church, the religious term is that we are “called” by God to the new position and new place. But when I first moved here eleven years ago, I was reluctant to talk about God “calling” me San Clemente. For most pastors a “call” implies at least some sense of being willing to be inconvenienced or possibly "suffer and sacrifice" for the Lord. Depending on your perspective, you may be "called" to Fresno, or Fargo, or Fairbanks, but you aren’t “called” to San Clemente, you GET to go to San Clemente and when you do you consider yourself either very blessed or very lucky indeed.
This morning, I hope to express my gratitude for the privilege of living and serving here, by hopefully serving you through some thoughtful remarks.
A priest, a rabbi, a parrot, a blonde and a seeing-eye dog all walk into a bar, and the bar tender says, “Is this some kind of a joke?”
Well, in a similar way following that opening, the question I want to pose may seem like one: What do politicians and pastors have in common?
Or to put it more accurately, What do people of faith and public officials share?
Or once more, What do Mayors have to do with Pray-ers? (And by that, I mean the people doing the praying and not the praying itself.)
This morning, I would like to venture a public answer to that question.