As he began his last sermon, Hope Chapel co-pastor Garrett Swasey told newcomers that if they wanted to understand his point of view they needed to know that he was also a police officer in Colorado Springs.
Thus, he was used to being surrounded by lots of distractions while trying to focus on life-and-death issues -- like spotting threats to public safety. In this multitasking age, he said, it's easy to let the clutter of daily life hide what really matters.
"I have been quoted on a number of occasions and I never seem to get quoted on the things that I would like to be quoted on, and I'm quoted on the things that I don't really prefer to be quoted on," said the 44-year-old Swasey, one of several ordained elders at this small evangelical congregation.
"One of those things -- you've all heard me say this before -- is, 'Give me three seconds and I'll forget the Gospel.' Right? It's like I have some kind of spiritual ADD."
The congregation laughed as Swasey led them on a witty tour of his own mind, where serious thoughts about sin and forgiveness -- "Focus on the Gospel, focus on the Gospel, focus on the Gospel" -- crash into, "How the heck did Denver lose to Indy?" or visions from Three Stooges movies or nagging concerns about a superstar quarterback in New England improperly deflating footballs.
It's hard to focus on the eternal, he stressed, again and again. But it's crucial to try, because the clock is running and no one knows how much time they have left.
Two weeks later, the congregation gathered in mourning after Swasey -- on duty at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs -- was killed after he voluntarily responded to calls for help at the nearby Planned Parenthood facility.