This is the final ‘Pause for Thought’ that I will write to from the Brackley Manse. I move on Monday to my new appointment as Superintendent of the Melton Mowbray Circuit.
I want to thank all of you for the many ways you have allowed me to be your minister, for the wonderful circuit leaving service and for the many beautiful gifts I have received. As the years go by, I will look back fondly on our time together; I trust the same will be true for you.
In the eight years I’ve been here I have watched children grow up. I’ve baptised, performed marriages, and officiated at too many funerals. I’ve visited hospitals and shut-ins and made too many phone calls to count. Together, we have realised a few dreams, lived through a few trials, and persevered. We’ve laughed and cried, eaten good food together and shared fellowship.
While I am leaving you, there is one who remains constant: Jesus Christ. Jesus has been here from the beginning and will be with you for the rest of time. If through the power of the Holy Spirit you allow Jesus to guide you – you will always have a mission. It may not look like the church we have today though. There may be difficult decisions which need to be made. But a passion for our Lord and Saviour will see you through all your future trials. This passion guided the earlier congregations of this circuit, a passion which allowed them to navigate their own trials. They managed and flourished; so can you.
The biblical record is full of stories about people who faced harder trials than we. A few times the people of Israel were exiled from their land; every time they returned.
When Elijah was on the run from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel he prayed, “I’ve been very passionate for the LORD God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too.”
The LORD heard Elijah’s prayer and encouraged him with these words: “I have preserved those who remain in Israel, totalling seven thousand–all those whose knees haven’t bowed down to Baal and whose mouths haven’t kissed him.” When Elijah had done the maths it looked to him like it was all over. God’s maths was different from Elijah’ however. God made a way where there was no way, and God will do it again for people who have faith.
I pray you will have a wonderful future. I pray that under new pastoral leadership you find a way to connect with the neighbourhood and invite more people to join you on Sunday morning, at coffee and lunch events and at new meetings.
Finally, I share with you the Mizpah blessing: “The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”
Go out smiling!
With my Love and Prayers.