Inside it was painted the same colour had the same green chairs, the same carpet -Everything was as I remembered and so very familiar … except the people.. I had not seen many of them for 10 years or more they had more grey hair, more wrinkles many of them were now frail. More than once people came up to me and asked” Do you know who I am ? and the truth was I often recognised the slightly changed face but could not get the name…. but then I am getting older too
As is so often the case with reunions, we were gathered in chapel for a funeral …Pats funeral
When I was a young man Pat an older minister had been my mentor. He was generous with his time, wise with his advice, unstinting with his encouragement
Over the years we had become friends. Now I had come to this familiar chapel in the countryside to say goodbye
The hymns chosen by Pat before he died were well known - the ones I would have expected him to have chosen by the hymn writers I knew he appreciated most, but it was the words that were said that astonished me .
Now I knew Pat was a dynamic minister a man of great vision,I knew that many years ago he had received an MBE for services to the church and community. I knew that he had once even persuaded Cliff Richard to come to the chapel to do a fundraising concert for charity, but I listened to the speaker that day talking about Pats life I realised I did not know the sheer breadth ,and indeed the depth of the work he had undertaken both at home and overseas
A man who had left school at 14 had blessed a surprising amount of people in a huge variety of ways.
When the service had ended with John Rutter’s magnificent benediction the Lord Bless you and Keep you,we mingled over sandwiches and tea and cake and person after person came up and shared how Pat had helped them, encouraged them through some tough time or other .How much his life had blessed their life
What a legacy he left in the lives of those he met.
We often measure greatness in human beings by the things they have or by the awards they have received, or the qualifications they have gained, or the wealth they have accumulated, or the family they have been born into
Jesus defines greatness very differently
On one occasion He took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness by washing the disciples’ feet. The Lord of all becomes the servant of all
In that one act Jesus demonstrates that in the topsy turvy world of The Kingdom of God the greatest person is the greatest servant
By that definition Pat Goodland was a great human being
As we drove down the A 49 heading through the darkness, on familiar roads towards
I wondered what my legacy would be when my turn comes. Shrewsbury
This Sunday you may like to ask yourself the same question.