"I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
At Stowmarket, we have now said our goodbyes to our Minister, Chris. We shall miss him for so many reasons. Some people will not realise what he did and the old joke about a Minister only working for 1 hour on a Sunday springs to mind. But what does a Minister do?
The dictionary tells us this about a Minister:
Noun - a person authorized to conduct religious worship; member of the clergy; pastor.
- a person authorized to administer sacraments.
Verb (used without object) - to perform the functions of a religious minister.
- to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.
- contribute, as to comfort or happiness.
Certainly, a minister works far more hours than the hourly (or longer) service on a Sunday when he is so visible to the congregation. Over and above the Sunday you will often see a minister visiting the sick and the dying as the need arises but also being with those on special occasions such as baptisms, marriages and other special life instances. Working closely with Chris I know that his role extends to comforter, social worker, chairperson, washer up, writer, teacher, enthuser in fact jack of all trades (except possibly gardening!). And at Christmas time eater of the occasional second (or more) Christmas puddings!
While we will miss Chris the life of our church goes on. The good folk of our congregation will rise to the challenge and not only keep our church alive but also keep it moving forward, responding to the call of God and the needs of our community.
The reading at the top of this letter comes from the Book of Joshua. After the death of Moses, the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua and gave him his instructions to take over from Moses. He gave him these words of encouragement, "9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
This seems appropriate to us all, both those with a minister and those without. Whatever we do, wherever we go we can have faith that God is with us. We must be strong and courageous. We must continue to live the way of Christ and share the knowledge of his way to those around us.
As we approach Advent we think again about the coming of Jesus and how that event changed the world and our lives. May this Christmas be a time for renewal in God's purpose and a reminder of God's love for us such that he sent his son into the world so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Anne (Stowmarket URC Group of Churches Secretary)