October – an anniversary trip to North Devon to give thanks for 25 years of ministry, since Sue Macbeth’s ordination at Barnstaple LEP. Then a nostalgic trip for us to North Wales, back to my first pastorate of Tynewydd Road, Rhyl and Dyserth, where I was ordained 34 years ago. Looking back, remembering and giving thanks. It was David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel who said “Remembrance leads to redemption, forgetfulness leads to exile” I passionately agree with him, that it is only by knowing from where we have come, and appreciating that journey, for what we are grateful, and what lessons we have learnt, that we can then face the future with confidence, knowing who we are.
LOOKING BACK OR STEERING FORWARD?
But even in the remembering we are enriched. We thoroughly enjoyed the celebration of Sue’s anniversary – including a Devon cream tea and a ride on a steam train! Of course, it was good to mark all that God has done through Sue’s ministry. But it hit me how ordinations, inductions, commissions, and moves are never separate distinct events, but are part of an ongoing journey. With Sue, I recognised far more she is, than minister of word and sacraments – and brought into her ministry a wealth of experience of church related community work, non-stipendiary ministry, as well as work in education and all the skills you pick up in working alongside people.
I joked with the North Wales folk, that whatever I did as a minister, I would always be remembered as the minister who had triplets – ironic as that was one thing I certainly didn’t do – let’s give the credit to my wife, Lynne! But chatting to members and friends, remembering the stories, I was struck that none of them were about what I had done – but everyone was a remembrance of something we shared together – ‘can you remember when we did this…’ Oh, yes I can, and how precious it was to picture those people doing things they thought they would never do, working together, bringing in others to the team, making a difference in their community
Bringing the gifts and experiences God has given us, recognising this in those around us, and committed to each other in praise and service to God – this seems a good definition of Church, the body of Christ. At Mission Council, our chaplain, Mark asked what it would look like to be Jesus Christ on earth. I thank God I have seen Him in many places and many more faces. I recognised Christ present in the Church today – in Barnstaple and North Wales – people looking to the future, with the confidence to face that future, knowing who we are and ready to follow the Way.
In Christ’s love,