Kingsfold Methodist Church
Musings From The Manse
July & August 2018
As our Kingsfolder editor, Peter, will testify I have always asked to have a reminder for my newsletter each month. For this July/August edition I needed no reminder. Quite simply, this newsletter has been on my mind for some time. I knew this day would come, and I’ve not looked forward to writing my final newsletter. Perhaps because I knew it would be a difficult letter to write – a very human avoidance of something you don’t want to do because writing it makes it all the more real.
In “The Lord of the Rings” (JRR Tolkien) the story begins with Bilbo simply disappearing amidst the celebrations of his “eleventy first” (111) birthday having just told the assembled company: “I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” Whilst I’m happy to affirm the first part of the quote I’m not sure I have ever quite worked out the second part – I think it means you deserve to be liked better than you have been but not totally sure!
Goodbyes are never easy and there is something to be said for simply disappearing to avoid all the emotion. But that is not satisfactory either. This is something the gospel writers struggled with as they worked out the relationship between the resurrected Jesus and the disciples: In Mark, Jesus does simply disappear; Matthew has Jesus making a fleeting appearance before he ascends; Luke has the road to Emmaus where the disciples don’t initially recognise Jesus as well as appearances to the disciples; and John portrays several detailed encounters including individual encounters with Thomas and Peter but the gospel suddenly ends and we are not told what happens to Jesus.
Goodbyes inevitable bring sadness and uncertainty as well as some excitement about what next. In the sadness and uncertainty, it is Jesus who has already told the disciples that it is important for him to go – the Advocate will not come until Jesus leaves (John 16:7). If you have ever read or watched The Lord of the Rings you know Bilbo’s disappearance is but the start of a long, life changing journey. Jesus’ disappearance sparks the Acts of the Apostles and the beginning of the Church story.
I feel privileged to have journeyed alongside you for these past eight years and I thank you for your fellowship, your friendship and your love. There have been ups and downs but overwhelmingly it has been an honour and I have been changed by our time together – change that I take with me into my new appointment as minister of Hoole, Longton and New Longton Methodist Churches.
Kingsfold Methodist church has also changed in this time as new friends arrive and loved ones depart and, as church life and worship re-form under the ministry of the Rev’d Mark Slaney, who is also the Circuit Superintendent, I encourage you to carry on exploring and asking what it means to be church in Kingsfold and Penwortham today.
I arrived as your minister with my shiny new ‘L’ plates! And I thank all of you for bearing with me (especially the Stewards) as I have found my feet (and tripped up on many an occasion!) We have tried new things, and I thank you for your trust in me (and your bravery) as we have sought to share the gospel with our neighbours in all sorts of ways whether that has been a Pet Blessing or a Carol Service.
For our journeys to continue we need to go in different directions, but I pray for you as you travel on in your mission and ministry as indeed I draw confidence from knowing that you will pray for my family and myself as we travel on. Fortunately, I am not required to move to a new manse, and Paul and I are very happy not to go through the upheaval of that!
To all of us Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
With my love and very best wishes,
T’is Jesus, the first and the last, whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
we’ll praise him for all that is past and trust him for all that’s to come. Amen.