Circuit Farewell Service

Borders Mission logo  It began with me feeling very apprehensive. Tonight was the Circuit farewell service, held at Swanwick Methodist Church.  Would it all end up in tears, a round of slushy over sentimental meaningless clichés ?  Not at all. It was the opposite and it was just what I needed. Yes I`m tired, emotionally drained, but feeling soooooo loved, affirmed and encouraged. It was absolutely brilliant; almost 200 people there. We laughed, shared, preached what I hope was a word of encouragement to “go on and do your best as a Circuit, as a Church and as a Christian” Never been so hugged as much by so many people; folk came not just from BMC, but also from the former Ripley and even from Erewash Valley Circuits. The District Evangelism Enabler (Roger Johnson) tried to be there but couldn’t, but it was lovely that he phoned to wish me well. Rev Tim Mitchell, an Anglican friend and a part of my MSM team,  was at Soul Survivor and broke away from it to journey to be there and was travelling back afterwards. We had Salvation Army, Baptists and Anglicans. Pilsley Yoof group turned up and were their usual boisterous, irreverent selves (thank goodness), showing embarrassing videos and photos of me (see their website), youngsters from Ripley came along with purple hair and a special young couple asked me to baptise their baby who hasn`t yet been born and then in a few years time marry them (I dutifully reminded them that it was up to the Minister in post then).

It has been truly terrific night and I really feel that I am loved.; cards, gifts presents galore and even a wonderful gift for Alison in recognition of her love and support. Beautiful!

It’s after a night like this that you`re able to look back and begin to believe that you`re not such a bad Minister after all, that perhaps you`re style of Ministry is appropriate, that you have touched and shaped lives. Many spoke of how I`d been there in their moments of need and joy, others of how my preaching was challenging to them in moving their faith on, and some of how their youngsters were still connected to the Church because of my approach to them. This means a lot to me.

Photographs were taken but not by me and so I won’t be able to put them on here until later on, but as soon as I can I will.

Only two more “do`s” (each one smaller and more intimate) and then a week of packing, preparing and getting ready to leave.

Thank you Lord

More detail...          Part of one of my cakes tonight. For some reason I`m struggling to get the whole picture in, but notice the Big Macs, the lego, the crocs and the waistcoat. It also contains my ipad, the Newcastle United logo and players names. It is a magnificent cake.

The Royal Birth

Well, after all the waiting and all the excitement, the news is out! The Royal baby has arrived, 3rd in line to the throne, born to extravagant riches but hopefully with the charm and nature of his parents, Kate and William.   I offer my congratulations and best wishes.Royal-baby-for England'sThrone-CarmenRodriguez...

So why does this merit such media coverage? After all thousands of babies are born every day; indeed there is a very real global fear that too many are being born amidst the worlds dwindling resources. And after all this child will want for nothing; born not only with a silver spoon in his mouth, but with what must feel like the entire cutlery set! His are riches beyond our imagination, so why all the fuss?

Firstly because we’re a part of a celebrity led culture, whether we like it or not.  The world is fascinated by those its elevated to celebrity status; we thrive on it, every little piece of gossip is devoured, every piece of clothing is examined in almost microscopic detail, every minor discretion turned into a major source of scandal. We may criticise this way of life but nearly all of us buy into it in some way.

Secondly, whether Republican or Monarchist, we live in a country which proclaims the Queen as sovereign head and so any successor to her is of national importance. This child will be decades away from being King but will one day become sovereign head over us. Jesus himself declared that we should “give to Caesar what is due to Caesar” or in other words give the respect his position deserves.

Thirdly, for those of us who are Christian we have to recognise a spiritual area in all this. This new born babes great-Grandmother regularly shares her faith not only at Christmas time but at other times as well. Our prayer for this child must be that he too will grow into the same faith and also be. Good witness for Jesus Christ.

Fourthly, and I confess to some unease here, it was certainly. scriptural view that the King was divinely appointed by God. If we follow this through, logically, we are saying that God has appointed this little child to be greater than the rest of us. However, the true Biblical picture of an anointed Sovereign involves the concept of servanthood also. Our Queen at her coronation promised to serve her country and commonwealth at all costs. This mirrors the Sovereignty of Jesus, who although a King served others faithfully, literally at all costs. And so the child needs our prayers that he too will understand Gods way of Sovereignty, a King and a Servant combined.

Tonight, whatever our views on monarchy, let us rejoice over a new life created and let us commit ourselves to pray for him.

Screenshots of Royal Baby cam (yes, people are...
Screenshots of Royal Baby cam (yes, people are watching Bobbies standing near a door) (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

Where does your help come from?

image Look closely at the image to the left and what do you see?   We have been visiting a Japanese Garden today at St. Mawgen in Cornwall. Lovely gardens, peaceful, shaded in many places, beautiful and idyllic. This statue was in a Japanese tea garden and what struck me (as well as at other statues) was the amount of coins which were laid on the statue, and it saddened me. Why, you might ask? After all its no different than throwing coins down a Rotary Club well; some people see it as an opportunity to support a charity, but others will pray for good luck or good fortune. It’s the latter that concerns me, for we live n a world where people gamble their future on wealth, property and status.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Now don’t get me wrong I often do the same; after all this is written n my iPad  and I’m a great one for gadgets. I’m always on the lookout for new things to own, buttons to press and switches to flick! Like a lot of people I dream of what I’m going to do with my lottery millions (although never buying a ticket is something of a hindrance to the dream!). I also play the Methodist equivalent of “if I ruled the world”, I.E. ‘if I were President of the Methodist Conference! Methodism would be in serious trouble).

However, I’d like to think that my fulfilment in life, nor my life itself depends on the acquiring of more gadgets, property, or status within the eyes of the world. It saddens me to see people for whom money etc. (And I include football within that), has become their main priority over everything else. I am mindful of the Biblical instruction to only have one God, to trust in Him and to be a loyal follower of His. I am also mindful of the Psalmist who writes “I lift my eyes to the hills, where shall my help come from? My help comes from The Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth” I want to spend my life knowing that in times of trouble I have a friend, a Lord, a Saviour who is far more reliable, eternally present and constantly loving; his name is Jesus and I want those who put their future hopes into the lottery, or stone statues, or simply luck to know that Jesus isn’t a gamble or a risk but a certainty. His promises hold true; I know, I’ve experienced them.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost there………………

The welcome banner at the entrance
The welcome banner at the entrance

Coming towards the end of my last real day within this Circuit. I go on holiday tomorrow for two weeks (Rebecca is staying at home dog-sitting) and then the day after I get back I have a pretty full three service day + farewell buffets. The following day I have my Circuit farewell and then that’s it, gone!

Its strange but despite having moved many times before I am finding this the hardest and the strangest; I don’t know whether it’s because I`ve been busier here than in any previous circuit and not in those things that drive my passion for evangelism; I don’t know if it’s because it’s still a fairly new Circuit and because I was there at its birth it feels like my baby; maybe it’s because I don’t like leaving a work unfinished and it feels as though that`s what I am doing; I don’t know if it’s because I`ve become incredibly fond of the people of this area. I suspect that it’s a mixture of all these things and I have to constantly remind myself that it was for health reasons that I agreed to move on and simply trust in the God who has brought me this far.

One way or another Borders Mission Methodist Circuit has become very dear to me and I will have some great memories of my short time here. Memories of a lot of laughter, great staff, a brilliant office team, some very special Churches, some very dear prayer times, a people who seem to care enough about me to let me go and yet want to keep me. Times at Dove Cottage with Newton, sport with Pilsley Yoof, teasing by the Barnet Boys, Flower Festivals, Ploughmans lunch all go into the mix of what makes up Borders Mission Methodist Circuit.

My hope and prayer is that they will grasp hope of the need to really promote Mission, that some of the Churches which are in irreversible decline will grasp the nettle and move on allowing resources to be used differently, that as a Circuit they may cherish what a wonderful lay team they have. Above all else they may truly understand that this is a mission envisaged to “know Christ and to make Christ known” and that it may truly become a reality.


But here`s to the future…………………. I`m sure that the incoming Minister, Dermot, will be just the man who this Circuit needs, different to me but with his own skills and capabilities. Dermot is Gods man for this area at this time, and my prayer is that God will bless him and his wife Charlene powerfully so that they can Minister to these precious people.

And as for my future…………. the newly formed Trent and Dove Circuit awaits with all of its challenges, hopes and expectations. Who knows what lies in store, other than the knowledge that Jesus said “……..I will be with you evermore” (Matthew 28) and if that’s his promise then I believe its a promise that will hold true, as it has done for me in previous circuits.


More lost !

Scales (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

Latest weight loss of a further few pounds. I`m now down to 17 stone 11 meaning the first stone is well and truly gone. I`m now wearing a suit I haven’t worn for four years and today put on a pair of trousers that I always liked but haven’t managed in the last couple of years.


Yes I know I`m a smug ************