Ending and New Beginnings
Last Thursday I sat in Finmere school hall as Bill took assembly there. He told the children that it could well turn out to be his last assembly ever – he had been doing school assemblies for 40 years, but was soon to be retiring. Talking with Mary afterwards, we agreed that it was unlikely he’d never do another one. Bill’s assemblies always go down very well with the children, and Mary will drop hints when they arrive in Histon to make sure he gets the chance to do the odd one there! And once they have settled down and unpacked all the boxes Bill will probably be offering his services as a priest to the local churches.
We will be very sorry to see Bill go – in the short time I have been here he has been a valuable colleague and I personally will miss his contributions to the ministry team. And so many of you have told me how much you have valued all that both Bill and Mary have given, both to the church and to the community. But we also understand their wish to be able to spend more time with their children and grandchildren – being a clergy family does play havoc with the weekends!
Of course, endings are part of life. As well as Bill and Mary moving, I am mindful of all the children who are moving school this summer, and those who are leaving school and university for pastures new. There are those changing jobs or retiring. Then there are those moving from their own home into a setting where they can receive the care that they need, those facing the ending of their own lives, and those grieving the loss of loved ones. Endings often bring with them a mass of different feelings, including sadness and uncertainty. But they also lead to new beginnings: new friends, new challenges, new opportunities. Think back over your own memories, and you will probably find that many of them link with times following change, times of new experiences and significant personal growth.
It is often as we look back on our lives that we can see God’s hand guiding us, leading us through change, helping us even in the direst of times, bringing good out of bad. Indeed, our Christian belief is that even following that biggest change of all, death, we move into the wonder of new life, new life in the presence of God. Knowing that God is with us can give us the courage to step out into uncertainty and change trusting that God will lead us through.
There is a blessing that I particularly like because if takes that image of God with us, wherever we go. It is my prayer for Bill and Mary and for all facing significant change this summer. Perhaps it could be yours too.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen.