Thursday, 23 February 2012

Going Back


Malvern Baptist Church

Last weekend we journeyed up the M5 for a three day visit to an old haunt of ours, our former home and church, Malvern in Worcestershire.  It was a joy to meet up with friends and exchange news and compare the height of our children!

I suppose such a visit begs the question of whether or not one should ‘go back’?  I’ve never had any problem with the idea of paying occasional visits to places and people we used to know.  I suspect to ask the question is to raise the idea that such return visits might be unsettling.  However, the reality is that ministers only ever have temporary tenure of the pastorates we occupy – we are here for a season, we move on and then someone new, with different gifts, takes our place for the next stage of the journey.

Last weekend as I sat in the pew (yes they still have them in Malvern) I couldn’t stop smiling – I think I looked like a Cheshire cat at one stage of the Communion Service.  Smiling because ‘little’ people I’d known, and perhaps even dedicated years ago, were now ‘big’ people – but still in church, still part of the family of God in that place – and as I saw that group of young people my heart rejoiced.  It also thrilled me to see people who were only ever at the margins during my time now firmly in the centre as the ministry of my successor unfolds.  All of it felt so good and right.

So I’m grateful for the reminder that the work is God’s and we are just a part of it; we are never its source but simply its channel.

This weekend sees the first Sunday in Lent and it’s great to be using the booklet of reflections drawn up by our Town Centre Churches.  On Sunday evening a series of ecumenical lectures starts at South Street – I’m down for the first one, the theme is Queen and Country (in recognition of our Sovereign’s Diamond Jubilee) and Sunday’s topic is Queen and Citizenship – I wrote it this afternoon!
With best wishes,
Ian

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