Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Going back!

If they can see you love them, you can say anything to them.
Richard Baxter

Ross baptist (just!) before I went there
The same view yesterday

Yesterday I preached at Ross on Wye Baptist church.

A church where I spent 21 very happy years as associate minister,minister and then senior minister before coming to Shrewsbury in 2004

As I drove the sixty odd miles of very familiar road,I found myself feeling unexpectedly nervous,despite the fact that the journey felt like travelling from home to home!

Arriving in the car park I saw my first familiar face and from then on I was made to feel very welcome.It was good to see everyone! I was delighted that I remembered so many names!

It made me  feel quite emotional to see so many people that over the years we had come to know so well and to catch up even ever so briefly  with some of them.One of the greatest privileges of the job I do is getting to know so many people so well,of sharing lives and even wasting time with people (let the reader understand!)

Of course loads of things had changed in the church in recent years,some were superficial like the very bright digital clock that reminded me not to talk for too long; and others were more important like some of the new and  very exciting ministries the church now undertake in the local community.

 A lot of the music was also unfamiliar to me but that is really a comment on the diversity of music used in churches these days.

I noticed too that the pristine carpet we had put in around 2001 was very marked and stained through years of use.I thought that was great and showed the building was well used for so many diferent things

After a lot of dithering I spoke on Joshua 3 because, since Tim my successor as Senior Minister left in the summer  to plant a church some miles away (among other things) ,the church is now in a time of transition and Joshua 3 is a passage about transition.

I made 3 basic  if very obvious points

  1. to lead in transition you need to know God's presence with you v 3
  2. to lead in transition you need vision v 4
  3. to lead in transition you need to be alongside the people v 17
I don't often manage 3 point sermons ,but I did today!

Driving back  on the A 49 I felt the joy of seeing good friends had refreshed me for the really exciting and challenging few months and years  that lie ahead with the church I  now serve in Shrewsbury

Many years ago when I was in Ross and was asked where I came from by a Baptist Union president, I was told "The lines have fallen for you in pleasant places "  (Psalm 16 v6)

Looking back over years spent in Herefordshire and now Shropshire, and the great people I have met in both places , it is hard to disagree!