On Turning 65
Allow me a moment of self-indulgence. I turn sixty-five years old today. It is one of those milestone birthdays which give you a reason to think of years gone by as well as to anticipate days to come. Becoming sixty-five means that you are unmistakably an elder. Some dread the occasion. I do not. I dreaded turning thirty, but sixty-five is an achievement of sorts, an occasion on which to reflect and give thanks.
In my sixty-five years I have learned some things, faced some challenges, made my share of mistakes and tried to contribute to the common good. I am grateful to those who have loved and nurtured me. I am appreciative of those who have taught and challenged me. I am respectful of a faith tradition that has provided both grounding and room to grow.
I cannot define myself apart from the love of Karen, Aaron, Teresa, Kristen, David and Ethan. I cannot understand myself apart from the name Hop Pop, given to me by Dashiel, Henry, Hudson and Dayton. I cannot think of growing older without anticipating the arrival of a granddaughter in early 2021. What will her name be? What memories will we create?
I have been the pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church for nearly thirty-two years, almost half my life. I am deeply grateful for your love and support. There is no greater honor than to be identified as your pastor.
There are several things that are clear. I will be remembered as the husband of Karen Hopkins. I will be remembered as the father of Aaron, Kristen and Ethan. I will be remembered as the Hop Pop of the D brothers, the H brothers and their sister. I will be remembered as the long-time pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. Wonderful identities all.
As the pastor of Lakeshore. I will be remembered by different people for different things. If I were to put on a historian’s hat, I would say that I will be remembered for pastoring the church through the disfellowshipping by the American Baptist Churches of the West, being part of the team that helped make Ceasefire a reality in Oakland and leading during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I trust that all these will be understood as part of an abiding commitment to seek the peace of our city.
A scripture that comes to mind as I turn sixty-five is Philippians 1:6 – The one that has begun a good work in you will see it through to completion. I don’t know what completion looks like. I have no time frame for it to fit into. I do know that at sixty-five I am closer to completion than to beginning. I do know that I believe ever more strongly that I am being “seen through.”
These words of Howard Thurman help explain what I mean by that. In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair. There is a mystery that surrounds us always, providing us wisdom and giving us strength.
Sixty-five. I am glad that the years have brought us together. On we go.The stillness of the quiet goes with us.
There was an intruder in my office. Please contact me if you know the identity of the perpetrator.
A Time For Prayer meets this morning at 10:00. We worship tomorrow at the same hour. Please be prepared for a time of making your annual pledges to the church.