Dear all at Bilton Grange and Knaresborough United Reformed Churches
As we move into our final month together and I write my last musings, I do so with all sorts of different feelings, as I am sure you will. Yes I am ready to lay down the role of being your minister and to look to the new chapter of life with Shelley in retirement however that may look, but it is also with sadness that I shall so miss the people in both church communities. I reflect on and give God thanks for the relationships we have built together and the things we have shared in our journey over our six and a half years.
Indeed, this is a time to give thanks to God for each other and the support, encouragement and love we have shared as we have travelled together in so many joyful things we have done but also in the difficult parts of our journey. I ask for your forgiveness where I have let you down or not been the minister you had hoped for.
As I write this letter I am reminded of the way Paul wrote to the early Church and the encouragement and challenges he gave them in their journey with Christ. He greeted his brothers and sisters in Christ warmly and reminded them of God’s love for them;
‘And so I write to all of you in Rome whom God loves and has called to be his own people:
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.’ Romans 1.7
May you hear those words as if written directly to Bilton and Knaresborough URC’s. May you always dwell in the knowledge that God loves you, for you are the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ.
As churches you will continue to come across difficulties but as Paul reminds us ‘If God is for us who can be against us?’Romans 8.31 Face the challenges of being church in this period of History by loving and supporting each other. Continue to pray for each other and I encourage you to pray more with each other. Be bold in responding to God’s mission for you as churches and individuals as you continue to look outwards to serve in love the communities you come into contact with and build good relationships and talk about Jesus and your experience of and with him, and do all this in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
‘So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2 Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.’ Romans 12.1-2
I look forward to hearing how your transforming story continues over the coming months and years, as you worship and serve our amazing God.
It has been a blessing and a privilege to serve God as your minister and I will take into retirement such love and friendship that I have found here. May God bless you as you journey on at the name and in the love of Jesus.
‘Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Do all your work in love.’ 1 Corinthians 16.13-14
With much love to you all in our Lord Jesus Christ