The final letter as Rector in the parish magazine.
Holly, our eight year old dog went to the vet to get a wart removed on Monday, 10th May. It was a very simple procedure and went very smoothly and Holly was recovering from the anaesthetic when, sadly, she just slipped away. Holly was a very gentle, very affectionate animal who loved nothing more than sitting beside you on the settee and going for a walk down Church Road each evening. Her death left a great sadness in her house.
At the same time, there was a need to keep things in a right perspective. On Sunday, 2nd May, I was preaching in Rwanda and my translator was Canon Emmanuel Gasana. In 1998, Canon Emmanuel lost his wife and five of his six children in a rebel attack on his home. Being upset at the loss of my dog seemed a piece of self-indulgence compared with the great grief in our world.
Leaving a parish can create a sense of bereavement, a sense of loss of friends and a sense of the loss of a place that had become very special, yet, in the big picture, a clergyman moving from one parish is part of the routine order of things; every week church newspapers carry reports of new appointments. Keeping things in perspective is important.
I am immensely grateful to everyone who has made the past eleven years a special time. A right perspective probably sees those years as a time of trying to hold our ground, rather than achieving and advances, but perhaps holding on was not such a bad thing to do at a time when so much of the church was going backwards.
There were many occasions when I got things wrong and many times when things that should have been done were left undone; there were lots of hopes that never materialised and concerns that were never addressed. Perhaps perfection is not possible this side of Heaven, but there were many things that could have been done better.
A right perspective also means acknowledging the thanks of those who have been very generous in their words. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of the pupils at our National School, their cards and good wishes will be put in a safe place to remind me of the many happy hours spent trying to tell them something of the Good News. I have also been touched by the kind words of many individual people.
In the end, it’s not our own perspective that matters, it’s what Jesus thinks of us. He puts our efforts into the correct perspective in Saint Luke Chapter 17, Verse 10, when he says to his followers:
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
As I move on to minister to another community and as the search begins for a new Rector, I ask your prayers for the Revd Niall and Dr Billy, as they care for Saint Matthias’ and for the person who will be appointed as Rector.
May each of us try to do as the Lord tells us, try to do what is our duty, and may the Lord bless and keep each one of you.