This sermon is titled The Empty Seat. In 1 Sam 20:14-18, David and Jonathan met before the new moon to discuss whether Saul would attempt to kill David. Jonathan agreed that David should not sit with the king for the new moon meals just in case Saul intended to kill him. During these three days, Jonathan would try to discern his father’s intentions and then he would meet up with David later and tell him what he learned.
When they made this arrangement, Jonathan covenanted with David for the current and future protection of his family. David always honored this covenant. In addition, the Bible says about their affection for each other, that Jonathan loved David, “for he loved him as he loved his own soul”, 1 Sam 20:17.
As they were wrapping up their plans, Jonathan said, “thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty”, 1 Sam 20:18. Whenever the seat of someone you love is empty, they will be missed.
I hate to announce that we have some new empty seats. Randy resigned Wednesday. He’s gone. Two seats there and one seat here will be empty.
I have had four days to process this. This is brand new to you. I want to give you time, but I also need to help you and us through it.
Let me, first, assure you that I love Randy, and Maureen, and Hannah. And he and they love me, and they love all of us. I have had a twenty year friendship with Randy that is one of the best I have enjoyed on this earth. And I have had a nearly thirty year friendship with Maureen and her family. That’s why I chose this text. Jonathan and David affirmed their love for each other before any mention of the empty seat.
Second, I’m sure you are wondering why. I relied upon Randy heavily. We talked over everything. However, recently, I believe he felt that I was distancing myself from him as the second man. And for him, this would not have been a workable relationship. So during the time I was recovering from my cold, he made up his mind to resign; and when his mind is made up, that’s it. I didn’t feel this way and I would have done anything to change his mind; but he was done. He resigned and now he is retired. He just turned 65 three weeks ago.
Third, I believe we should respect his decision. By this I mean that I don’t think making further inquiry is the right thing to do. Prov 20:24. If you were to ask him for more information, I’m sure he would tell you less than I have said. And I’m not going to say more than what I’ve said. It was his decision. Speculating about it isn’t going to change it. If you were to contact them, I encourage you to express your love for them and your appreciation for their years of faithful service to the Lord and our church. They’re not coming back.
Fourth, we should pray. 1 Thes 5:17. We need to pray for the Knupple’s. There is no doubt this was a very hard decision and it hurts. We need to pray for each other. There are myriad emotions people have around decisions like this. And unchecked emotions can be very harmful. I would appreciate your prayers for Tony, Kim, and me. There’s someone missing around here during the day. It’s a pain that is akin to the grief of death. And there are many duties to absorb in our schedules.
Fifth, we should trust God. Prov 3. I believe I can see God’s hand in this. I have prayed, I have sought counsel from three pastors (names), I have searched the scriptures, and I have thought carefully about many things leading up to his decision. While it is a shock to us, it certainly did not catch the Lord off guard.
The Lord knows exactly what to do going forward. And I believe that we must rely upon him and the Holy Spirit for leadership, protection, comfort, and unity. He will definitely lead us through this.
Sixth, we need to watch out for the devil. 1 Pet 5:8. We are very vulnerable, right now, to discord. I am confident that you will handle yourselves well. However, we can’t give our adversary an advantage over us. We each need to protect our hearts and our mouths. Tony said Satan could attack the same way looters do after a storm. While there is still turmoil, the looters come in to steal. Our adversary seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the sheep. Be very careful. Soon would be an excellent time for us to observe the Lord’s supper.
Seventh, we need to work together going forward. 1 Cor 12. We are a body of believers. And there are many things that the members of the body can do. Rather than fill his position at this point, we’ll look for the Lord’s direction. What a change like this does is that it reveals needs in the church. And there are people the Lord sets in the body who can fill those needs. We need to patiently wait on the Lord to show us how to function as a body with this change. I believe he knows exactly what he wants us to do.
In the meantime, C&C class will meet with the adults. For the time being, we’ll coordinate prayer requests through Kim. For a couple of weeks, I want to pray about the continuation of the Port ministry, whether the Lord wants us to continue. And so forth. I’ll send out an email, as soon as we can type in all the addresses and inform the church members who could not be here.