From the Mersey to the Tyne

After Assembly Alan headed up to Scotland, where, as John Proctor jested, he hoped they’d have a reserved parking space for Alan’s bike! I picked up the theme of big rivers from the communion sermon, going from the Mersey to the Tyne, and again noting John’s ribbing not to mention the Shields Ferry (for those not at Assembly – a mere mention of the Mersey Ferry in my sermon and only an hour later, the real thing crashed for the first time ever!) Whereas Alan and I were hopefully doing the same thing at Assembly – the following Saturday we were doing the opposite – Alan involved in the induction and welcome of the new moderator in Scotland, the Revd David Pickering, whilst I was in Northern Synod preaching at the leaving service for its Moderator, the Revd Lis Mullen.

Leaving Services can become a bit of a funeral rehearsal, where you can actually hear how much you are appreciated. There were great things said of Lis from both within synod and from ecumenical church leaders. However, there was no way I was going to use a sermon to preach a eulogy, and Lis wouldn’t want it, yet the love and respect for her was tangible in the service. What really hit me listening to the readings of God’s Word and then hearing my own sermon, was a realisation that here in the congregation were dozens of people and who were representing hundreds more in our churches, all living out the Gospel message. And here we were saying goodbye and thanks to Lis for building up the confidence of this people, encouraging them and teaching them the way of Jesus.

Leaving services can also become quite sad affairs, but there was none of it here. There was joyful singing, and a humorous sketch (thanks to Lawrence Moore writing it and Ron Forster and Dave Herbert acting superbly!), smiles and laughter.  We were celebrating – a leaving service had become a festival – a rich feast of our Faith and the “People of the Way” living it out!


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