Home » Uncategorized » February 19, 2012 Sermon – “GOD’S BUCKET LIST”


February 19, 2012 Sermon – “GOD’S BUCKET LIST”


Scripture:  II Corinthians 4:3-6

Date: February 19, 2012

     Do you remember the movie, Bucket List? It was about two terminally ill men who share a hospital room. One is a retired mechanic, Carter Chambers (played by Morgan Freeman). The other is the owner of the hospital, Edward Cole  (Jack Nicholson).  The owner doesn’t have a private room because as a cost saving measure he instituted a policy of no single rooms – no exceptions – even for him.

     While rooming together the auto mechanic starts to write what he calls his “bucket list” – a list of all the things he would like to do before he kicks the bucket. As he writes, he is sad and resentful believing that he will not have the opportunity to do anything on the list. He seems somewhat bitter about his life.

     This inspires the owner of the hospital, and he decides that indeed they must do everything on the list and he has the resources to do it! The list includes such things as: Sky diving, driving a race car, going on a safari in Africa, visiting the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China and eating caviar.

     The message of the movie is about redemption. Here they are at the end of their lives, having received a death sentence, and as they look back over their lives, they feel disappointment. So they go off and do everything on the list together. At first we assume that the message is that it is important to make our lists as early as possible so as to be able to do as many of the things on your bucket list as possible.

     But the actual message is better: That they were not redeemed by doing the list, but through each other – the relationship that developed between them. The auto mechanic dies and at the memorial the hospital owner speaks and he says, “You saved me”. It is a good message – as it invites us to consider what is important in our lives – where we find redemption. Unfortunately, I suspect that most people who saw the movie went home to make lists rather than consider their relationships.

     If you Google bucket list all sorts of things pop up. There are many sites citing all the things that one should hope to do. The kinds of things on the lists are very attractive:

    White water rafting

    Scuba diving

    Experiencing weightlessness

    Building your own home

    Flying in a hot air balloon

    Seeing the aurora borealis

    Writing a book

    Running a marathon

    Learning to play an instrument

    Get a tattoo

    Eating fugu, blowfish (which can be very poisonous)

    Speaking another language

    Traveling around the world

    Being a contestant on Survivor (and so on)

    There are many things like this I would like to do. I wanted to run a marathon once in my life and now that seems unlikely.   I still want to learn to play an instrument and I’m still trying to read Japanese fluently. I have no interest in a tattoo or eating fugu.

   Consider a Bucket List is a metaphor for our lives. Doesn’t it tell us what we think is important about our lives? What kind of message do we get from the “world” about a bucket list?

     Accomplishments: Getting straight A’s; becoming vice president of the company; getting a trophy in hot yoga.

     Experiences: Hang gliding, seeing the Taj Mahal, meeting the president.

     Anything that fills in the blank in the sentence: You haven’t lived until you_____________.

     Advertising firms are providing us with answers to that question all the time:

            You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Pepsi Free

            You haven’t lived until you get a big screen TV

            You haven’t lived until you have the body of a model

            You haven’t lived until you cruise the Mediterranean.

    Expanding on my previous article about Super Bowl commercials:

            You haven’t lived until you have a Samsung smartphone

            You haven’t lived until you see the new Avengers movie

            You haven’t lived until you stay the extra day at Disneyland

            You haven’t lived until you’ve driven your Silverado through the Apocalypse

  After the movie came out there were Bucket list travel packages and commercials asking if a diamond is on your bucket list?

   Don’t you wonder what would be on Paul’s bucket list? Paul sailed the Mediterranean but I can’t see Paul on a cruise and I don’t think seeing the Pyramids would be on the list. Paul would scorn parasailing. He wouldn’t list accomplishments. He only boasts of Christ, after all.

     If he did make a list it might include: Gathering an offering from his Greek churches to take to Jerusalem; going to Rome, but not to see the Coliseum. And then going to Spain would also be on the list. For that reason, learning another language would be, too. But really there would only be one thing on the list. All the other things would be sub-lists. And that one thing was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

     Paul is tough to emulate and we don’t want to use Paul as a standard to become discouraged. But I do think we can hang onto the metaphor and ask:  What may go on the bucket list for followers of Jesus Christ? Let’s give it a try:    

            Building someone else’s house (Think of Habitat for Humanity)

            Feeding the hungry (We have opportunities to do so right here)

            Serving a s a Volunteer in Mission

            Adopting an at risk child

            Serving on the Board of a Not For Profit

            Reading the Bible (Not cover to cover, but even being a part of a Bible Study)

            Living and serving in a faith community with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness

            Learning a language of people who live in my neighborhood so that I might better understand them

            Celebrating 50 years of a covenantal relationship

            Raising children

            Being a political advocate for justice

            Learning to walk softly on the earth (I want to grow a vegetable garden someday and I am an aspiring vegetarian)

            Practicing a spiritual discipline, meditation or fasting

            Making a religious pilgrimage

            Learning some art form that will inspire people

            Learning to cook to feed people                    

    It isn’t black and white, either or. The lists can change with each person and over the course of a lifetime. I remember a man in Anacortes who loved to scuba dive. He went all over the world to see coral reefs. But then he came home with wonderful pictures. He visited schools to share with the children about how vital it is to protect the reefs.

     I have often imagined being a contestant on Survivor, but if I were able to do it, my goal would be to subvert it. I would offer a deal with all the other contestants: Let me win the million dollars in the name of Jesus, of course, and I will distribute it to everyone equally after giving 10% to charity of their choosing.

     Then I would advocate that we all spend our time on the island learning to share with each other and create community. We would let others win or try very hard to tie. Everyone would be deferring to each other and the gossip would be about caring for others, full of positive feedback and compliments, turning Survivor into the Kin-dom of God! Sadly, if I succeeded the program would likely be canceled.

     Don’t you think we ought to include our faith as a part of any bucket list we create? Shouldn’t God be at the center of our bucket lists before we land in the hospital terminally ill?

    Bucket List the movie had a wonderful message: That we are not redeemed by our lists, but by each other. But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for both of them. They learned that the bottom line is love; that we are redeemed through our love for each other. But they learned this only when they were about to die. We shouldn’t wait that long. We should wake up every day with something new for our list: Things we aspire to do in the spirit of Jesus Christ.


 Romans 12:

    I appeal to you therefore brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfiect.

Comments are closed

Sorry, but you cannot leave a comment for this post.