Able to blog again but only on a borrowed computer ! My computer has gone tot he great silicon chip burial ground, as it expired gently on me on Sunday afternoon. While I was taken a short nap it slipped away into oblivion; actually that sounds rather a romantic way of saying the video card has gone and that I may need a new computer. For the time being I’m borrowing Rebecca’s; she has kindly set up a guest account for me.
Anyway, to the weekend. What a fabulous send off we had. On Saturday many from the circuit turned up for a final celebration service to bring to a close the life of the Ripley Methodist Circuit before we divide into the Amber Valley and the Borders Mission Circuits. In an act of worship we managed to include items from every circuit church, including sketches, songs, hymns, video, a rock group and a whole lot of laughter. Some pics can be found on Facebook. It was a very emotional day.
However Sunday saw my farewell at Ripley and it was quite magnificent. Many of the youngsters turned up in crocs and waistcoats with t-shirts which spelt out my name on the back; we laughed, cried, and praised God for all he’s done during my time in the Church.
To the right are some of the members of `Surrender` who played during the service, including a piece they`d written about me. Look them up on Facebook or YOu tube. Notice the t-shirts; can’t quite see but they spell MIKE.
I was very moved by the whole morning. Gifts were given ranging from the moving such as a hand painted picture, to a Newcastle United mug filled with Mint Imperials; from a phone holder in the shape of a croc (shoes) to a Derby County shirt; from a lovely key ring to a hand knitted Newcastle scarf, hat and waistcoat.
I don’t think that any of the presents are financially valuable but to me they are worth everything simply because I felt the love and warmth contained within the giving of them.
It is proving to be a real wrench to move on and I will miss these people badly; for 6 years they have been family to me, I have seen the youngsters grow (indeed I’ve baptised some of them) and blossom; I’ve sat with the older folk in good times and troublesome times and sadly some of them couldn’t be there because of age and infirmity. These are my family just as other churches and circuits have also been family. As I get older both in years and in Ministry it gets harder and harder to move on because you never lose that love you have for your people.
This is what people who claim to have a faith but who don’t belong to a Church or attend worship miss out on; yes, they may have faith and yes they can worship God anywhere, BUT they mis out on the love and fellowship of other Christians and that for me is so precious.
And so I move on to pastures new (almost new, as I’m taking 5 churches with me), with new people to meet, new areas to explore and a new house to live in. Its going to be tough but I’m sure that God is waiting for Alison and I when we get there. Jesus promised at the end of Matthews Gospel, “and lo, I will be with you to the close of the age”.
We believe that promise to be true.