Coming to the end of my time as minister of RBC feels really strange, in part because the past nine years have gone really quickly. As well as fun, it’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life to lead this church, and to play such an active role in many of your lives. And I say that because being your minister has put me in a really unique position of being able to share in the joys and challenges and good times and the bad times of many of your lives.
So I’m really grateful to you as a church that you took the risk of appointing me. I was 21 when you interviewed me and I started here a month before my 23rd birthday. But you gave me an opportunity that many other churches wouldn’t have given me. And that came about because of your willingness to try something different, and your openness to being guided by God above everything else. And that has continued to be my experience of RBC throughout my time here.
So I want to share a couple of thoughts based on things I’ve said in recent sermons, because I think they’re important for me and for RBC.
The first thing is the word “unity”. On Pentecost Sunday I preached about the importance of unity and said that RBC and Ruddington are really special places when it comes to working together with unity. The way this church operates as a family is really unique, as it is as well in the relationships with the other churches in the village. And one of the things that stands out to me about unity is that it doesn’t always mean agreeing, but that it means listening to each other well, and disagreeing with each other well, and putting God and His Kingdom before our own wants and desires. And as a church, RBC has always been really good at that. The message that I gave on Pentecost Sunday was to keep working at unity, and not to neglect it. Particularly in times of change and challenging conversations, keep listening to God and each other, and when you disagree, do it well.
Second, I want to give a reminder of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 that I preached on 25th June. Paul prayed that God’s people would be strong in faith, strong in love, and that the outcome of that would be that God would do immeasurably more than all they could ask or imagine. And, actually, that’s my prayer again for you this morning as a church: may God make you strong in faith, string in love, and may you end each day amazed at the wonders he has shown you.
And so Esther and I and the two girls aren’t going to be leaving immediately: we have to wait for a house move to go through, so you’re going to see us around a little bit more. But before we do leave we wanted to give you a gift to show our appreciation to you and to remember us by. So we thought of a Welsh love spoon, first because you all know that I’m Welsh, but also because love spoons symbolise love and respect. And the different elements of a love spoon represent different things; on this one the cross on top represents our faith in Christ, and the Celtic knot-work in the middle represents eternal and steadfast love. So in many ways it represents that verse from Ephesians 3: being strong in faith and strong in love. And so I hope that this will serve as a reminder of that and a reminder of our affection for all of you.
So, again I want to say thank you to all of you as my church family. I will love you and miss you all dearly.